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