The International Space Station (ISS) is a research laboratory being built by a number of space agencies. Construction began in 1998 and is supposed to continue into 2011. It is the largest artificial satellite in orbit around Earth and can be see with the naked eye. ISS is in a very low orbit around Earth, only about 242 miles overhead, and circles the Earth 15 times a day. The cost of building this facility is expected to top out around $100 billion dollars, with the US picking up close to a third of that. Unfortunately, NASA only has funding for the project through 2015. If it doesn't find the money to continue, it plans to "de-orbit" the space station in the early part of 2016. Deorbit does not mean taking it apart and bringing it back down to Earth in pieces. It means changing the orbit so that it crashes into the Pacific Ocean. They estimate 80% of it would burn up in the atmosphere and the remaining 20% of the debris would fall into the ocean in an area the size of Alaska.
They do allow tourists to come visit the station at a bargain price of $25 million each. That seems to be the way to go since they make the astronauts on the station work 55 hours a week.
Photo from nasaimages.org