"The only incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible."

--Albert Einstein

For centuries scientists have attempted to unravel the mysteries of the universe. The pace at which we unlock these secrets quickens with each passing decade, due to the dedication of scientists and insatiable human curiosity. One of the greatest feats of scientific and engineering enterprise in recent times is now the third brightest object in the night sky--the International Space Station (ISS).

The ISS is a without a doubt a technological marvel. Orbiting Earth at a distance of approximately 400 kilometers, the ISS is a feat of scientific, engineering, and technological ingenuity and ushers in a new era of human space exploration. Scheduled for completion in 2006, the ISS is truly a global partnership; 16 leading industrialized nations are involved in its development and use. The five key partners are the United States, Canada, Russia, Japan, and the European Space Agency (composed of 11 European nations). Each nation is committed to using the ISS for peaceful purposes, with a cooperative mission to improve life on Earth. History is made with every journey into space, as we learn more about the universe around us and expand our horizons for scientific breakthroughs.

As a result of advances in space technology, more and more scientists these days will have the opportunity to test their theories in space: on rockets, space shuttles, free-flying platforms (that's satellites to the layperson), and in the near future, the ISS laboratories. Scientists engaged in space research come from diverse academic backgrounds. Whether it is mathematicians or physicists trying to decode the fundamental laws of the universe, biologists studying bone loss during the weightlessness of space, chemists developing new polymeric materials, or engineers designing better bearings for use in space joints, the broad range of space R&D activities illustrates the growing interdependence between studies done on Earth and in space.

In this month's feature, Next Wave goes behind the scene of international space research and takes a look at the careers of a few space scientists. We also highlight some training options and funding opportunities for budding young researchers. Finally, the Next Wave staff has compiled a list of interesting and informative space Web resources to help expand the picture.


Space physics is a field of research that is both fascinating and actively growing, according to space physicist May-Britt Kallenrode. She explores the opportunities for space physics training in Germany and Europe, as well as challenges faced in this relatively tight job market.


Helen Mapson-Menard considers herself a lucky person in that she has always known that she wanted to be involved in space research. She discusses how she planned for such a career path.


Hendrik Weihs is an aerospace scientist in Germany. Hendrik informs Next Wave of the outlook for the aerospace industry in Europe and discusses his involvement with the ISS.


Astrophysicist turned medic Kevin Fong was enthused by the field of space medicine, but found that no such research program existed in the UK. So he set out to lay the groundwork for a space life and medical sciences research and education program.


The ISS will provide a long-term, high-quality space environment for research. Microgravity specialist Rodney Herring describes the opportunities for scientists and students in space research in Canada.

The Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology is the latest astrobiology research and education program in the UK. Sara Al-Bader found out how the center manages to bring together a broad range of disciplines and expertise.


At the NASA Academy, a selected group of students have the opportunity to work and play with experts in space science in a 10-week program each summer. Find out what it takes to be one of the lucky few interns.


With a foot finally in the door, astrophysics student Erin Roye, in an interview with Liz Marshall, provides an account of her summer internship at the NASA Academy.


GrantsNet's Katie Cottingham summarizes the current funding situation for the next generation of space scientists in the US.


The Next Wave editorial team has collected an extensive list of informative links to international space Web sites in our Resources page. Whether it is careers in space research, astronaut profiles, government programs, or the results of the latest shuttle flight that interests you, you are sure to find useful links here.