How Many Astronauts Have Gone Into Space?

Humanity has been grappling with the final frontier of exploration for over 60 years now, and in that time many achievements and challenges have been met and overcome.

The space race of the mid 20th century led to the rapid mobilization of both the Soviet Union and the United States of America in the biggest technological race since the development of nuclear bombs.

The first achievements in human spaceflight were marked with satellite launches and unmanned probes, before finally culminating in the first manned missions to space.

But since Yuri Gagarin first orbited Earth and returned safely back to us, many have followed in his rocket-boosted wake.

However, there are some slight differences in definition when it comes to space, depending on the altitude reached by individuals and the defined boundaries of space according to the various space agencies worldwide.

According to the FAI, spaceflight is defined as any flight higher than 62 miles (100 kilometers), however, in the US any commercial, military or professional pilot who travels above 50 miles (80km) is awarded astronaut wings, a badge of achievement and honor for pilots who have completed a successful spaceflight.

As of January 2018, 553 human beings have entered orbit around the earth, with 556 reaching or passing the altitude of space according to the FAI.

According to the US definition of space, 562 people have managed to reach space, including the 24 individuals involved in the Apollo moon missions.

In that long period of continued development, changing priorities, and political change, mankind has continued to send human beings into space, to peacefully and cooperatively advance the cause of mankind and develop our understanding of the vast unknown.

Aside from the plans of space agencies in the US, China, Russia, Europe, and India, there are a growing number of commercial enterprises seeking to take non-military, civilian tourists to low earth orbit.

This space tourism is still in its early stages, but as this industry continues to develop and grow, the number of human beings that have gone into space may begin to increase rapidly, whether they are officially astronauts or not.

The only question is whether or not you need to pack your passport.

How many astronauts have died in space?

The advancement of human understanding often comes at the cost of human lives, sacrificed in the pursuit of knowledge and for the betterment of humankind.

This is no different when it comes to spaceflight. The uniquely challenging nature of spaceflight and exploration makes this cost an inevitable part of our continued development as a spacefaring civilization.

The development of procedures, checks, manufacturing, scientific understanding, and technology have been hard-won by individuals who have taken incredible risks on behalf of the human race, putting their lives at risk to pursue an immense task.

Despite all of the best efforts of scientists and engineers, there have been fatalities in space, as well as fatalities related to spaceflight that did not occur in space itself.

The only humans to actually die in space itself were the three crew members of the Soyuz 11 mission, Georgy Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov, and Viktor Patsayev.

They are believed to have died of Asphyxiation, due to a componentry failure that led to a depressurization event, killing the crew within seconds.

The Soyuz 11 mission was the first crewed mission to the world's first space station, named Salyut 1. The cosmonauts spent over two weeks at the space station before their fatal journey back to Earth.

Their death led to a change of procedure and design that meant Soviet cosmonauts could wear an emergency pressurize suit during launch and reentry, to try to prevent similar disasters occurring in the future.

While this is the only human loss of life to occur in space, there have been many fatalities during takeoff, the most dangerous phase of spaceflight, as well as landing and even in testing.

There have been 30 fatalities regarding spaceflight as of 2020 and many more injuries.

What Did We Leave On The Moon

What happens if an astronaut gets lost in space?

The thought of getting lost in space is the stuff of nightmares, the dreaded fate that haunts astronauts during every phase of their mission.

There are also many ways that an astronaut can become lost in space, although there are also a vast series of measures in place to prevent it from happening.

The first way that an astronaut can become lost in space is due to instrumentation or engineering failure that could cause their spacecraft to veer off its intended course.

It's important to remember that while space is vast, space travel is an intensely precise science governed by minute adjustments in heading, trajectory, speed, and other exterior forces such as gravity.

Minor failures can cause catastrophe, and could feasibly cause a whole spacecraft to be lost in space. This is something that almost occurred during the Apollo 13 emergency, as the astronauts attempted to return to earth after a series of engineering failures.

Their trajectory had to be calculated and planned to make sure their reentry angle was correct, or they risked never making it back to Earth.

Without careful adjustments, no spacecraft can hope to navigate the immense forces of space travel successfully, and it is thought that even small discrepancies in reentry angles could cause a spacecraft to bounce off the earth's atmosphere like a stone skimming over the surface of a pond.

This would cause the ship and its crew to be lost in the process, though this has never happened.

Another major risk is during an EVA or spacewalk. The procedures for spacewalks are incredibly strict and are almost always tethered, to help prevent an astronaut from becoming lost.

However, if an astronaut were to be lost, it would be a very dangerous and difficult situation. The chance of successful recovery would depend on a range of factors such as the force acting on the lost astronaut, nearby crew members, and their ability to react.

It can be very difficult to orientate yourself in space and it would be difficult to even spot a lost astronaut beyond a small range, especially if communications were lost.

Thankfully, no astronaut has ever been lost in space during an EVA or otherwise, and even when fatalities have occurred in space such as the Soyuz 11 mission, the bodies of the astronauts were recovered on Earth.

Gordon Watts