The International Space Station is in constant motion, whipping around the Earth at some 17,000 miles per hour. But according to current ISS inhabitant and NASA astronaut Don Pettit, there’s no reason why a bullet-fast orbital space station with no fixed location shouldn’t have a fixed mailing address--after all, Navy ships have mailing addresses, as do remote outposts like McMurdo Station in Antarctica--and he’s devised just such a postal nomenclature to satisfy this need via his NASA blog.
In this system, the “zip code” is 51.603, the first three digits representing the orbital inclination (which should help future space couriers locate the address on orbit) and the last two digits being a designator for the ISS itself. The station is the third such space station at this orbital location, after the Salyut series of stations and Mir. Pettit reasons that this nomenclature should work until the orbit becomes clogged with up to 99 space stations.
Postage rates, however, are likely going to be astronomical.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.