International Space Station (ISS) was launched by USA and Russia in 1993. Besides Russia and USA, the participants in the development of the space station include Canada, Japan and the nations of the European Community.
The low gravity environment and other characteristics of the ISS represent a unique set of challenges for living organisms. The effects that these environmental factors have on the biology and evolution of organisms can give important insights into basic biological processes as they evolve on Earth.
Life may have originated extra- terrestrially, or have been transported from this planet to another celestial body. The ISS provides a previously unavailable opportunity to investigate the potential for interplanetary transfer of living organisms, and the ability of terrestrial organisms to tolerate the space environment over time. The increased understanding of basic space biology obtained from research on board the ISS could greatly facilitate the maintenance of astronaut health during long missions.