Four Cupriavidus metallidurans and eight Ralstonia pickettii isolates from the space industry and the International Space Station (ISS) were characterized in detail. Nine of the 12 isolates were able to form a biofilm on plastics and all were resistant to several antibiotics. R. pickettii isolates from the surface of the Mars Orbiter prior to flight were 2.5 times more resistant to UV-C(254nm) radiation compared to the R. pickettii type strain. All isolates showed moderate to high tolerance against at least seven different metal ions. They were tolerant to medium to high silver concentrations (0.5-4 muM), which are higher than the ionic silver disinfectant concentrations measured regularly in the drinking water aboard the ISS. Furthermore, all isolates survived a 23-month exposure to 2 muM AgNO(3) in drinking water. These resistance properties are putatively encoded by their endogenous megaplasmids. This study demonstrated that extreme resistance is not required to withstand the disinfection and sterilization procedures implemented in the ISS and space industry. All isolates acquired moderate to high tolerance against several stressors and can grow in oligotrophic conditions, enabling them to persist in these environments.