Today marks an important milestone in the history of human exploration. For the past decade, men and women from 15 nations have lived and worked together in space in the peaceful pursuit of science and exploration. The first crew of the International Space Station took up residence 200 miles above Earth on this date 10 years ago and we have had a sustained human presence in space ever since.
Truly an international endeavor, the space station has brought disparate nations together for a common purpose -- to better our lives on Earth. More than 600 experiments conducted in orbit aboard this amazing laboratory have contributed to important research designed to improve the quality of life for everyone.
Because of the extraordinary value of this orbiting research outpost, earlier this year I proposed extending the life of the space station until at least 2020 so that NASA can pioneer new frontiers in education and international cooperation that will maximize the scientific return of this important foothold in space. Congress overwhelmingly agreed, and I was recently able to sign into law legislation that calls for extending the life of the space station for at least another 10 years.
As we look to the next 10 years, we can only imagine what's in store for our future astronauts, engineers, and scientists. I am committed to ensuring that NASA continues along a sustainable path as an international leader in space exploration and as an inspiration to a new generation of explorers to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
As we look to the future of America's continued leadership in space and think about the steps we will take in the months and years to come to extend humanity's reach beyond Earth orbit, I would like to say thank you and a job well done to the men and women who have contributed to this historic achievement.