Space travel with humans aboard spacecraft
Top 10 Human spaceflight related articles
- 1 History
- 2 Passenger travel via spacecraft
- 3 Human representation and participation
- 4 Milestones
- 5 Space programs
- 6 Safety concerns
- 6.1 Environmental hazards
- 6.2 Equipment hazards
- 6.3 Fatality risk
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 Bibliography
- 11 External links
Human spaceflight (also referred to as manned spaceflight or crewed spaceflight) is spaceflight with a crew or passengers aboard a spacecraft, the spacecraft being operated directly by the onboard human crew. Spacecraft can also be remotely operated from ground stations on Earth, or autonomously, without any direct human involvement. Persons trained for spaceflight are called astronauts, cosmonauts, or taikonauts; and non-professionals are referred to as spaceflight participants.
The first human in space was Yuri Gagarin, who flew the Vostok 1 spacecraft, which was launched by the Soviet Union on 12 April 1961 as part of the Vostok program. Humans traveled to the Moon nine times between 1968 and 1972 as part of the United States Apollo program, and have had a continuous presence in space for 20 years and 134 days on the International Space Station (ISS).
To date, Russia, the United States, and China are the only countries with public or commercial human spaceflight-capable programs. Non-governmental spaceflight companies have been working to develop human space programs of their own, e.g. for space tourism or commercial in-space research. The first private human spaceflight launch was a suborbital flight on SpaceShipOne on June 21, 2004. The first commercial orbital crew launch was by SpaceX in May 2020, transporting, under government contract, astronauts to the ISS.
Human spaceflight Intro articles: 13
Cold War era
Human spaceflight capability was first developed during the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union (USSR). These nations developed intercontinental ballistic missiles for the delivery of nuclear weapons, producing rockets large enough to be adapted to carry the first artificial satellites into low Earth orbit.
After the first satellites were launched in 1957 and 1958 by the Soviet Union, the US began work on Project Mercury, with the aim of launching men into orbit. The USSR was secretly pursuing the Vostok program to accomplish the same thing, and launched the first human into space, the cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who, on 12 April 1961, was launched aboard Vostok 1 on a Vostok 3KA rocket and completed a single orbit. On 5 May 1961, the US launched its first astronaut, Alan Shepard, on a suborbital flight aboard Freedom 7 on a Mercury-Redstone rocket. Unlike Gagarin, Shepard manually controlled his spacecraft's attitude. On 20 February 1962, John Glenn became the first American in orbit, aboard Friendship 7 on a Mercury-Atlas rocket. The USSR launched five more cosmonauts in Vostok capsules, including the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova aboard Vostok 6, on 16 June 1963. Through 1963, the US launched a total of two astronauts in suborbital flights and four into orbit. The US also made two North American X-15 flights (90 and 91, piloted by Joseph A. Walker) that exceeded the Kármán line, the internationally recognized 100 kilometres (62 mi) altitude used by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) to denote the edge of space.
In 1961, US President John F. Kennedy raised the stakes of the Space Race by setting the goal of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth by the end of the 1960s. That same year, the US began the Apollo program of launching three-man capsules atop the Saturn family of launch vehicles to accomplish this; and, in 1962, began Project Gemini, which, in 1965 and 1966, flew 10 missions with two-man crews launched by Titan II rockets, Gemini's objective being to support Apollo by developing American orbital spaceflight experience and techniques to be used during the Moon mission.
Meanwhile, the USSR remained silent about their intentions to send humans to the Moon, and proceeded to stretch the limits of their single-pilot Vostok capsule by adapting it to a two or three-person Voskhod capsule to compete with Gemini. They were able to launch two orbital flights in 1964 and 1965 and achieved the first spacewalk, performed by Alexei Leonov on Voskhod 2 on 8 March 1965. However, the Voskhod did not have Gemini's capability to maneuver in orbit, and the program was terminated. The US Gemini flights did not achieve the first spacewalk, but overcame the early Soviet lead by performing several spacewalks, solving the problem of astronaut fatigue caused by compensating for the lack of gravity, demonstrating the ability of humans to endure two weeks in space, and performing the first space rendezvous and docking of spacecraft.
The US succeeded in developing the Saturn V rocket necessary to send the Apollo spacecraft to the Moon, and sent Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders into 10 orbits around the Moon in Apollo 8 in December 1968. In July 1969, Apollo 11 accomplished Kennedy's goal by landing Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the Moon on 21 July and returning them safely on 24 July, along with Command Module pilot Michael Collins. Through 1972, a total of six Apollo missions landed 12 men to walk on the Moon, half of which drove electric powered vehicles on the surface. The crew of Apollo 13—Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise—survived a catastrophic in-flight spacecraft failure, orbited the Moon without landing, and returned safely to Earth.
Meanwhile, the USSR secretly pursued crewed lunar orbiting and landing programs. They successfully developed the three-person Soyuz spacecraft for use in the lunar programs, but failed to develop the N1 rocket necessary for a human landing, discontinuing their lunar programs in 1974. Upon losing the Moon race they concentrated on the development of space stations, using the Soyuz as a ferry to take cosmonauts to and from the stations. They started with a series of Salyut sortie stations from 1971 to 1986.
In 1969, Nixon appointed his vice president, Spiro Agnew, to head a Space Task Group to recommend follow-on human spaceflight programs after Apollo. The group proposed an ambitious Space Transportation System based on a reusable Space Shuttle, which consisted of a winged, internally fueled orbiter stage burning liquid hydrogen, launched with a similar, but larger kerosene-fueled booster stage, each equipped with airbreathing jet engines for powered return to a runway at the Kennedy Space Center launch site. Other components of the system included a permanent, modular space station; reusable space tug; and nuclear interplanetary ferry, leading to a human expedition to Mars as early as 1986 or as late as 2000, depending on the level of funding allocated. However, Nixon knew the American political climate would not support congressional funding for such an ambition, and killed proposals for all but the Shuttle, possibly to be followed by the space station. Plans for the Shuttle were scaled back to reduce development risk, cost, and time, replacing the piloted fly back booster with two reusable solid rocket boosters, and the smaller orbiter would use an expendable external propellant tank to feed its hydrogen-fueled main engines. The orbiter would have to make unpowered landings.
In 1973, the US launched the Skylab sortie space station and inhabited it for 171 days with three crews ferried aboard Apollo spacecraft. During that time, President Richard Nixon and Soviet general secretary Leonid Brezhnev were negotiating an easing of Cold War tensions known as détente. As part of this, they negotiated the Apollo-Soyuz program, in which an Apollo spacecraft carrying a special docking adapter module rendezvoused and docked with Soyuz 19 in 1975. The American and Russian crews shook hands in space, but the purpose of the flight was purely symbolic.
The two nations continued to compete rather than cooperate in space, as the US turned to developing the Space Shuttle and planning the space station, which was dubbed Freedom. The USSR launched three Almaz military sortie stations from 1973 to 1977, disguised as Salyuts. They followed Salyut with the development of Mir, the first modular, semi-permanent space station, the construction of which took place from 1986 to 1996. Mir orbited at an altitude of 354 kilometers (191 nautical miles), at an orbital inclination of 51.6°. It was occupied for 4,592 days and made a controlled reentry in 2001.
The Space Shuttle started flying in 1981, but the US Congress failed to approve sufficient funds to make Space Station Freedom a reality. A fleet of four shuttles was built: Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, and Atlantis. A fifth shuttle, Endeavour, was built to replace Challenger, which was destroyed in an accident during launch that killed 7 astronauts on 28 January 1986. From 1983 to 1998, twenty-two Shuttle flights carried components for a European Space Agency sortie space station called Spacelab in the Shuttle payload bay.
The USSR copied the US's reusable Space Shuttle orbiter, which they called Buran-class orbiter or simply Buran, which was designed to be launched into orbit by the expendable Energia rocket, and capable of robotic orbital flight and landing. Unlike the Space Shuttle, Buran had no main rocket engines, but like the Space Shuttle orbiter it used smaller rocket engines to perform its final orbital insertion. A single uncrewed orbital test flight took place in November 1988. A second test flight was planned by 1993, but the program was canceled due to lack of funding and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Two more orbiters were never completed, and the one that performed the uncrewed flight was destroyed in a hangar roof collapse in May 2002.
US / Russian cooperation
The dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 brought an end to the Cold War and opened the door to true cooperation between the US and Russia. The Soviet Soyuz and Mir programs were taken over by the Russian Federal Space Agency, now known as the Roscosmos State Corporation. The Shuttle-Mir Program included American Space Shuttles visiting the Mir space station, Russian cosmonauts flying on the Shuttle, and an American astronaut flying aboard a Soyuz spacecraft for long-duration expeditions aboard Mir.
In 1993, President Bill Clinton secured Russia's cooperation in converting the planned Space Station Freedom into the International Space Station (ISS). Construction of the station began in 1998. The station orbits at an altitude of 409 kilometers (221 nmi) and an orbital inclination of 51.65°. Several of the Space Shuttle's 135 orbital flights were to help assemble, supply, and crew the ISS. Russia has built half of the International Space Station and has continued its cooperation with the US.
After Russia's launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957, Chairman Mao Zedong intended to place a Chinese satellite in orbit by 1959 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC). However, China did not successfully launch its first satellite until 24 April 1970. On 14 July 1967, Mao and Premier Zhou Enlai decided that the PRC should not be left behind, and started China's own human spaceflight program. However, the first attempt, the Shuguang spacecraft, which was copied from the US Gemini craft, was canceled on 13 May 1972.
China later designed the Shenzhou spacecraft, which resembled the Russian Soyuz, and became the third nation to achieve independent human spaceflight capability by launching Yang Liwei on a 21-hour flight aboard Shenzhou 5 on 15 October 2003. China launched the Tiangong-1 space station on 29 September 2011, and two sortie missions to it: Shenzhou 9 16–29 June 2012, with China's first female astronaut Liu Yang; and Shenzhou 10, 13–26 June 2013. The station was retired on 21 March 2016 and reentered Earth's atmosphere on 2 April 2018, burning up with small fragments impacting the Pacific Ocean. Tiangong-1's successor Tiangong-2 was launched in September 2016. Tiangong-2 hosted a crew of two—Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong—for 30 days. On 22 April 2017, the Tianzhou 1 cargo spacecraft docked with the station, which was later deorbited, in July 2019, burning up over the Pacific.
Abandoned programs of other nations
The European Space Agency began development of the Hermes shuttle spaceplane in 1987, to be launched on the Ariane 5 expendable launch vehicle. It was intended to dock with the European Columbus space station. The projects were canceled in 1992, when it became clear that neither cost nor performance goals could be achieved. No Hermes shuttles were ever built. The Columbus space station was reconfigured as the European module of the same name on the International Space Station.
Japan (NASDA) began development of the HOPE-X experimental shuttle spaceplane in the 1980s, to be launched on its H-IIA expendable launch vehicle. A string of failures in 1998 led to funding reductions, and the project's cancellation in 2003 in favor of participation in the International Space Station program through the Kibō Japanese Experiment Module and H-II Transfer Vehicle cargo spacecraft. As an alternative to HOPE-X, NASDA in 2001 proposed the Fuji crew capsule for independent or ISS flights, but the project did not proceed to the contracting stage.
From 1993 to 1997, the Japanese Rocket Society [ja], Kawasaki Heavy Industries, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries worked on the proposed Kankoh-maru vertical-takeoff-and-landing single-stage-to-orbit reusable launch system. In 2005, this system was proposed for space tourism.
According to a press release from the Iraqi News Agency dated 5 December 1989, there was only one test of the Al-Abid space launcher, which Iraq intended to use to develop its own crewed space facilities by the end of the century. These plans were put to an end by the Gulf War of 1991 and the economic hardships that followed.
United States "Shuttle gap"
Under the Bush administration, the Constellation program included plans for retiring the Space Shuttle program and replacing it with the capability for spaceflight beyond low Earth orbit. In the 2011 United States federal budget, the Obama administration canceled Constellation for being over budget and behind schedule while not innovating and investing in critical new technologies. As part of the Artemis program, NASA is developing the Orion spacecraft to be launched by the Space Launch System. Under the Commercial Crew Development plan, NASA will rely on transportation services provided by the private sector to reach low Earth orbit, such as SpaceX Dragon 2, Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser, or the Boeing Starliner. The period between the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011 and the first launch into space of SpaceShipTwo Flight VP-03 on 13 December 2018 is similar to the gap between the end of Apollo in 1975 and the first Space Shuttle flight in 1981, and is referred to by a presidential Blue Ribbon Committee as the U.S. human spaceflight gap.
Commercial private spaceflight
Since the early 2000s, a variety of private spaceflight ventures have been undertaken. Several of the companies—including Blue Origin, SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and Sierra Nevada—have plans to advance human spaceflight. As of 2016[update], all four of those companies have development programs to fly commercial passengers.
SpaceX and Boeing are both developing passenger-capable orbital space capsules as of 2020, with SpaceX carrying NASA astronauts to the International Space Station on board a Crew Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 Block 5 launch vehicle. Boeing will be doing the same with their CST-100 launched on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle. Development funding for these orbital-capable technologies has been provided by a mix of government and private funds, with SpaceX providing a greater portion of total development funding for this human-carrying capability from private investment. There have been no public announcements of commercial offerings for orbital flights from either company, although both companies are planning some flights with their own private, non-NASA, astronauts on board.
Human spaceflight History articles: 159
Passenger travel via spacecraft
Over the decades, a number of spacecraft have been proposed for spaceliner passenger travel. Somewhat analogous to travel by airliner after the middle of the 20th century, these vehicles are proposed to transport large numbers of passengers to destinations in space, or on Earth via suborbital spaceflights. To date, none of these concepts have been built, although a few vehicles that carry fewer than 10 persons are currently in the test flight phase of their development process.
One large spaceliner concept currently in early development is the SpaceX Starship, which, in addition to replacing the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles in the legacy Earth-orbit market after 2020, has been proposed by SpaceX for long-distance commercial travel on Earth, flying 100+ people suborbitally between two points in under one hour, also known as "Earth-to-Earth".
Small spaceplane or small capsule suborbital spacecraft have been under development for the past decade or so; as of 2017[update], at least one of each type is under development. Both Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin have craft in active development: the SpaceShipTwo spaceplane and the New Shepard capsule, respectively. Both would carry approximately a half-dozen passengers up to space for a brief time of zero gravity before returning to the launch location. XCOR Aerospace had been developing the Lynx single-passenger spaceplane since the 2000s, but development was halted in 2017.
Human spaceflight Passenger travel via spacecraft articles: 11
Human representation and participation
Participation and representation of humanity in space has been an issue ever since the first phase of space exploration. Some rights of non-spacefaring countries have been secured through international space law, declaring space the "province of all mankind", though the sharing of space by all humanity is sometimes criticized as imperialist and lacking. In addition to the lack of international inclusion, the inclusion of women and people of color has also been lacking. To make spaceflight more inclusive, organizations such as the Justspace Alliance and IAU-featured Inclusive Astronomy have been formed in recent years.
The first woman to ever enter space was Valentina Tereshkova. She flew in 1963, but it was not until the 1980s that another woman entered space again. At the time, all astronauts were required to be military test pilots; and women were not able to enter this career, which is one reason for the delay in allowing women to join space crews. After the rules were changed, Svetlana Savitskaya became the second woman to enter space; she was also from the Soviet Union. Sally Ride became the next woman to enter space and the first woman to enter space through the United States program.
Since then, eleven other countries have allowed women astronauts. The first all-female space walk occurred in 2018, by Christina Koch and Jessica Meir. These two women had both participated in separate space walks with NASA. The first woman to go to the moon is planned for 2024.
Despite these developments women are still underrepresented among astronauts and especially cosmonauts. Issues that block potential applicants from the programs, and limit the space missions they are able to go on, are, for example:
- agencies limiting women to half as much time in space than men, due to suppositions that women are at greater potential risk for cancer.
- a lack of space suits sized appropriately for female astronauts.
Human spaceflight Human representation and participation articles: 10
- 12 April 1961
- Yuri Gagarin was the first human in space and the first in Earth orbit, on Vostok 1.
- 17 July 1962 or 19 July 1963
- Either Robert M. White or Joseph A. Walker (depending on the definition of the space border) was the first to pilot a spaceplane, the North American X-15, on 17 July 1962 (White) or 19 July 1963 (Walker).
- 18 March 1965
- Alexei Leonov was first to walk in space.
- 15 December 1965
- Walter M. Schirra and Tom Stafford were first to perform a space rendezvous, piloting their Gemini 6A spacecraft to achieve station-keeping one foot (30 cm) from Gemini 7 for over 5 hours.
- 16 March 1966
- Neil Armstrong and David Scott were first to rendezvous and dock, piloting their Gemini 8 spacecraft to dock with an uncrewed Agena Target Vehicle.
- 21–27 December 1968
- Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders were first to travel beyond low Earth orbit (LEO) and first to orbit the Moon, on the Apollo 8 mission, which orbited the Moon ten times before returning to Earth.
- 20 July 1969
- Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were first to land on the Moon, during Apollo 11.
- Longest time in space
- Valeri Polyakov performed the longest single spaceflight, from 8 January 1994 to 22 March 1995 (437 days, 17 hours, 58 minutes, and 16 seconds). Gennady Padalka has spent the most total time in space on multiple missions, 879 days.
- Longest-duration crewed space station
- The International Space Station has the longest period of continuous human presence in space, 2 November 2000 to present (20 years and 134 days). This record was previously held by Mir, from Soyuz TM-8 on 5 September 1989 to the Soyuz TM-29 on 28 August 1999, a span of 3,644 days (almost 10 years).
By nationality or sex
- 12 April 1961
- Yuri Gagarin became the first Soviet and the first human to reach space, on Vostok 1.
- 5 May 1961
- Alan Shepard became the first American to reach space, on Freedom 7.
- 20 February 1962
- John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth.
- 16 June 1963
- Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to go into space and to orbit the Earth.
- 2 March 1978
- Vladimír Remek, a Czechoslovakian, became the first non-American and non-Soviet in space, as part of the Interkosmos program.
- 2 April 1984
- Rakesh Sharma, became the first Indian citizen to reach Earth's orbit.
- 25 July 1984
- Svetlana Savitskaya became the first woman to walk in space.
- 15 October 2003
- Yang Liwei became the first Chinese in space and to orbit the Earth, on Shenzhou 5.
- 18 October 2019
- Christina Koch and Jessica Meir conducted the first woman-only walk in space.
Sally Ride became the first American woman in space, in 1983. Eileen Collins was the first female Shuttle pilot, and with Shuttle mission STS-93 in 1999 she became the first woman to command a U.S. spacecraft.
For many years, only the USSR (later Russia) and the United States were the only countries whose astronauts flew in space. That ended with the 1978 flight of Vladimir Remek. As of 2010[update], citizens from 38 nations (including space tourists) have flown in space aboard Soviet, American, Russian, and Chinese spacecraft.
Human spaceflight Milestones articles: 2
The following space vehicles and spaceports are currently used for launching human spaceflights:
- Soyuz program (USSR/Russia): spacecraft on Soyuz launch vehicle, from Baikonur Cosmodrome; 140 crewed orbital flights since 1967, including two in-flight aborts which failed to reach orbit, as of March 2019[update]
- Shenzhou program (China): spacecraft on Long March launch vehicle, from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center; 5 flights since 2003, as of July 2016[update]
- SpaceShipTwo (US): Air launched from White Knight Two carrier aircraft. 2 suborbital spaceflights since 2018, as of February 2019
- Crew Dragon (US): Part of the Commercial Crew Program, launched from Kennedy Space Center on a Falcon 9 rocket. Two successful launches with more in the planning stages.
The following space stations are currently maintained in Earth orbit for human occupation:
- International Space Station (US, ESA, JAXA, CSA and Russia) assembled in orbit: altitude 409 kilometers (221 nautical miles), 51.65° orbital inclination; crews transported by Soyuz or Crew Dragon spacecraft
Most of the time, the only humans in space are those aboard the ISS, whose crew of up to 7 spends up to six months at a time in low Earth orbit.
Numerous private companies attempted human spaceflight programs in an effort to win the $10 million Ansari X Prize. The first private human spaceflight took place on 21 June 2004, when SpaceShipOne conducted a suborbital flight. SpaceShipOne captured the prize on 4 October 2004, when it accomplished two consecutive flights within one week.
NASA and ESA use the term "human spaceflight" to refer to their programs of launching people into space. These endeavors have also been referred to as "manned space missions", though because of gender specificity this is no longer official parlance according to NASA style guides.
Planned future programs
Under the Indian Human Spaceflight Program, India is planning to send humans into space on its orbital vehicle Gaganyaan before August 2022. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) began work on this project in 2006. The initial objective is to carry a crew of two or three to low Earth orbit (LEO) for a 3-to-7-day flight in a spacecraft on a GSLV Mk III rocket and return them safely for a water landing at a predefined landing zone. On 15 August 2018, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, declared India will independently send humans into space before the 75th anniversary of independence in 2022. In 2019, ISRO revealed plans for a space station by 2030, followed by a crewed lunar mission. The program envisages the development of a fully-autonomous orbital vehicle capable of carrying 2 or 3 crew members to an about 300 km (190 mi) low Earth orbit and bringing them safely back home.
NASA is developing a plan to land humans on Mars by the 2030s. The first step will begin with Artemis 1 in 2021, sending an uncrewed Orion spacecraft to a distant retrograde orbit around the Moon and returning it to Earth after a 25-day mission.
Several other countries and space agencies have announced and begun human spaceflight programs using natively developed equipment and technology, including Japan (JAXA), Iran (ISA), and North Korea (NADA). The plans for the Iranian crewed spacecraft are for a small spacecraft and space laboratory. North Korea's space program has plans for crewed spacecraft and small shuttle systems.
National spacefaring attempts
- This section lists all nations which have attempted human spaceflight programs. This should not to be confused with nations with citizens who have traveled into space, including space tourists, flown or intending to fly by a foreign country's or non-domestic private company's space systems – who are not counted in this list toward their country's national spacefaring attempts.
|Nation/Organization||Space agency||Term(s) for space traveler||First launched astronaut||Date||Spacecraft||Launcher||Type|
|Soviet space program
(OKB-1 Design Bureau)
|космонавт (same word in:) (in Russian and Ukrainian)
|Yuri Gagarin||12 April 1961||Vostok spacecraft||Vostok||Orbital|
||National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)||astronaut
|Alan Shepard (suborbital)||5 May 1961||Mercury spacecraft||Redstone||Suborbital|
||National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)||astronaut
|John Glenn (orbital)||20 February 1962||Mercury spacecraft||Atlas LV-3B||Orbital|
||Space program of the People's Republic of China||宇航员 (Chinese)
|...||1973 (abandoned)||Shuguang||Long March 2A||Orbital|
||Space program of the People's Republic of China||宇航员 (Chinese)
|...||1981 (abandoned)||Piloted FSW||Long March 2||Orbital|
||CNES / European Space Agency (ESA)||spationaute (in French)
|...||1992 (abandoned)||Hermes||Ariane V||Orbital|
||космонавт (in Russian)
|Alexander Viktorenko, Alexander Kaleri||17 March 1992||Soyuz TM-14 to MIR||Soyuz-U2||Orbital|
|...||رجل فضاء (Arabic)
رائد فضاء (Arabic)
ملاح فضائي (Arabic)
|...||2001 (abandoned)||...||Tammouz 2 or 3||N/A|
||National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA)||宇宙飛行士 (Japanese)
||China National Space Administration (CNSA)||宇航员 (Chinese)|