Inspired by this question, total mass ever launched to orbit (this is a different question, as many of the things launched have decayed by now.)

How much of it is still up there? Out of that again, how much is still operational?


Spent upper stages are valid and count as launched.

"Still there" does not include spacecraft landed or crashed on the Moon, Mars or other bodies. They may however be included in a separate number. Spacecraft "landed on" (docked to) another artificial object, like the ISS, does not count as landed.

"Operational" means two-way communication with Earth, propulsion capability is not necessary.

An asteroid must be larger than the spacecraft for it to count as "landed", meaning a spacecraft struck by interplanetary dust or pebbles is not "landed".

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ So basically, how much have we launched that is still in a free fall environment? $\endgroup$
    – user
    Jan 13, 2016 at 13:19
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling That is a much more elegant way of saying it $\endgroup$ Jan 13, 2016 at 13:28
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of Total mass sent into orbit over all history $\endgroup$ Jan 13, 2016 at 14:17
  • $\begingroup$ @honeste_vivere That is for everything ever launched, this is for the things currently in space $\endgroup$ Jan 13, 2016 at 14:28
  • $\begingroup$ Okay, but one could infer from that chart the answer to your question by doing a quick Fermi-like problem, could they not? Perhaps I was too strict in my thoughts about it being a duplicate... $\endgroup$ Jan 13, 2016 at 14:36


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