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Space Station Celebrates 15 Years of Humans Living in Orbit

Astronaut Scott Kelly Talks Movies, Space Photos With NBC's Lester Holt 2:02

On Monday, astronauts celebrated the 15th anniversary of humans living on the International Space Station.

It was November 2, 2000, when a Soyuz rocket first brought people to the ISS. Since then, it has been home to 45 crewed missions.

"The space station really is a bridge," NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren said Monday from the ISS. "It's a test bed for the technologies that we need to develop and understand in order to have a successful trip to Mars."

The current crew includes NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who recently set two American records for time spent in space. Over the last 15 years, research from the ISS has appeared in 1,200 scientific publications, according to NASA. The agency is hoping to use Kelly's year-long mission to gain insight on the effects of long-term space travel for a potential mission to Mars.

Astronauts and space agencies paid tribute to the ISS' mission on Twitter.

The ISS has been home to 220 people from 17 countries. In the last 15 years, those astronauts have consumed more than 26,500 meals — including, according to NASA, crew favorites like shrimp cocktail and macaroni and cheese.

Both Russia and the United States have committed funding for the ISS through at least 2024.