Nearly two decades after its launch, the International Space Station (ISS) has reached an epic milestone: the habitable satellite completed its 100,000th orbit around Earth on May 16.

NASA astronaut Jeff Williams, who is currently aboard the ISS, announced in a video that the station began its new orbit as it crossed the equator at 06:10 GMT.

Moving at an incredible 17,500 miles (28,164 kilometers) per hour, the ISS takes about 90 minutes to finish a complete orbit around our planet at an altitude of 240 miles (386 kilometers).

With current calculations, experts say the ISS has traveled 2.64 million miles (4.25 billion kilometers), nearly the distance from Earth to Neptune or 10 back-and-forth journeys from Earth to Mars.

Astronauts inside the station get to see 16 sunsets and sunrises in a 24-hour period. Right now, the ISS crew consists of Williams; American astronaut Tim Kopra; British astronaut Tim Peake; and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka, Alexey Ovchinin, and Yuri Malenchenko.

Williams said the significant milestone is a tribute to the international partnership between the European Space Agency, Russia, Canada, Japan and the United States. This is just the beginning, he said.

"One-hundred-thousand orbits, the journey continues," said Williams.

History Of The International Space Station

On Nov. 20, 1998, the first ever component of the space station was launched into space. No one lived in the ISS during its assembling stages.

The $100 billion orbiting complex, which can hold as much living space as a five-bedroom house, has been permanently occupied by astronaut crews since November 2000, two years after its initial assembly.

Williams said a total of 222 people have visited the ISS for the past 15.5 years, including several space tourists who paid for the trip.

Ever since astronauts began inhabiting the space station, they have pushed through the limits of what is possible for life in outer space.

More than 1,900 scientific studies have been performed aboard the ISS.

Astronauts have successfully grown the first flower in space - a plant called zinnia. In August 2015, ISS astronauts also harvested and ate red romaine lettuce grown in space - the first space-grown food ever consumed.

Former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who has returned home from his year in space, was part of a mission to test the effects of space travel on the human body, along with his twin brother Mark.

All of these missions are part of the initiative by NASA and partner agencies for the prospect of human space flight beyond Earth's orbit. Indeed, the ISS is considered a stepping stone to Mars and other destinations.

What's Next?

On Monday, a few Cubesats were deployed from the module airlock of the Kiko Lab. More will be released on Wednesday, according to NASA.

The ISS crew has also tested the grip strength of mice for the Rodent Research experiment, which explores an antibody that may prevent the weakening of muscles and bones in space. Next week, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) will be operated and expanded.

The ISS will keep flying in orbit until 2024, although NASA and partner agencies plan to extend it to 2028. The space station will be de-orbited over a stretch of ocean when the time comes. Most of its components will burn up in the atmosphere.

Until then, the space station will continue its operations.

Watch NASA astronaut Jeff Williams' announcement below.

ⓒ 2021 TECHTIMES.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.