What Time is it on the International Space Station?

the International Space Station

This question has recently come up with my upcoming partnership with Astronaut Luca Parmitano to serve as his Earth Liaison while he lives among the stars. What time is it on the International Space Station (ISS) and who made that decision?

The answer is that is it GMT +0 (Greenwich Mean Time) or UTC +0 (Universal Time) which would be the same time that it is in Iceland. Why is it that this was the selected time for the ISS? The time was originally set to be GMT -5 to match the time zone in Houston, Texas since this is where the main command center for the ISS is located. But the controllers in Moscow also need to be at the console while the astronauts and cosmonauts are working from about 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. The two countries agreed to GMT +0 as a way to accommodate the controllers in both parts of the world. Once again, international cooperation at it’s best.

I heard a story that the Russian workers were not happy when the time was to be set at GMT -5 because the metro in Moscow closes at 1 a.m. and that left them without transportation home – this is why the request was made to shift the time zone to GMT +0. Not sure if this is the true story or not, but it seems realistic to me.

Unfortunately the built-in iPhone clock application does not recognize the International Space Station in its search. In order to set your clock application you will have to type a GMT +0 country, but it’s as easy as that. Just look for Iceland and you’re set! I am hoping Apple will add the International Space Station to their list – it’s seems the ISS deserves its own time zone listing! Plus how cool to have the ISS time set on your phone! There has to be an app for that!

Photo Credit: NASA

Comments

    • Daylight savings time is seasonal. The ISS spends part of its orbit in the northern hemisphere and part in the southern. Not to mention, they cross entire time zones and international boundaries in just a few minutes.

    • Which will only give GMT when DST is not in effect. Use “UTC” (Universal Time Coordinated), which is the mean solar time at 0 deg longitude, instead. There is a setting for UTC on the Apple clock app.

    • Nope, wrong, Iceland is the only country in the world that uses UTC+0 throughout the year. The United Kingdom, for example, moves to UTC+1 during summer for absolutely no good reason whatsoever.

    • It’s not GMT +0 all year round in the UK becuase of daylight saving so does not match with the ISS timezone. Iceland does not have dayalight saving so fits perfectly.

    • Since the UK observes the daylight saving time you would be off an hour for half a year. Iceland doesn’t observe DST.

  1. why not Canary Islands time?
    it is also Gmt 0. and during many years had Meridian 0 Time in the Hierro island

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