There has been much talk in recent years about the possibility of establishing a permanent space colony somewhere in the solar system. If that happens, it's plausible that somebody will live their entire life in space within the next century.

Currently our knowledge of the health effects of living in space are somewhat limited in various respects, in particular I don't think we know exactly what the effect is on people outside of a narrow age range. But how narrow exactly is that range?

Who was the youngest and oldest person to fly in space? And what was their age at the time?


2 Answers 2


As of May 19, 2024, the oldest person to fly in space is sculptor and historian Ed Dwight, aged 90 years 8 months at the time of his flight, narrowly edging out Canadian actor William Shatner (The Devil's Rain, T.J. Hooker, Boston Legal), who was 90 years 6 months old on his October 13, 2021 flight. Both were brief suborbital flights above the Kármán line on Blue Origin's NS25 and NS18 respectively.

Astronaut John Glenn holds the record for oldest person in orbit by a fair margin; he flew on STS-95 at the age of 77 -- officially as a "payload specialist", but in practice as a passenger.

A number of other astronauts have been to space in their late 50s and early 60s. Of these, Story Musgrave, the second-oldest, has flown over 1200 hours in space on 6 different shuttle missions from age 47 to 61. The linked article actually isn't complete; it's missing (at least) Pavel Vinogradov, the oldest spacewalker and I believe the oldest cosmonaut, having commanded ISS mission 36 at the age of 60.

The youngest person in to fly in space is Oliver Daemen, an 18-year old Dutch student. This was also a short suborbital flight above the Kármán line, Blue Origin's NS16 in July 2021.

The youngest person in orbit was 25-year-old Gherman Titov on Vostok 2 -- USSR's second cosmonaut and the 4th person to fly into space.

Sally Ride was the youngest American NASA astronaut, flying STS-7 at the age of 32.

Hayley Arceneaux was the youngest American to orbit the Earth, on SpaceX's private Inspiration4 flight in 2021, at age 29.

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    $\begingroup$ "officially as a "payload specialist", but in practice as a passenger" So ... on that flight he specialized in being payload? $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 1:49
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    $\begingroup$ He got no Gemini or Apollo flights because he resigned from NASA to run for public office. I don’t have as much resentment for his shuttle flight as some do, but it certainly wasn’t something he was owed. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 17:15
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    $\begingroup$ @ikrase In the early days they wanted the best of the best, people with engineering degrees and significant amounts of test flight experience, which usually had a prerequisite of combat flight experience. The most impressive résumés were coming from people with a lot of years of experience. In the shuttle era, the payload specialist role didn’t require an experienced fighter jock, but often called for a PhD, and it was common to go five or ten years between being accepted into the corps and making a first space flight. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 8, 2020 at 16:34
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    $\begingroup$ Go-directly-to-jail-and-do-not-pass-Go for having 169k reputation on SE Space and not being able to come up with more notable William Shatner roles than T.J. Hooker and Boston Legal! $\endgroup$
    – phil1008
    Commented Jun 6 at 1:25
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    $\begingroup$ I really don't understand, why his (William Shatner) appearance in an iconic and space-related show with high inpact in popular culture is not mention here: "Airplane II: The Sequel" $\endgroup$
    – CallMeTom
    Commented Jun 6 at 8:55

In general William Shatner is older than Edward Dwight, but in space (above 100 km) Edward was older than William:

William: October 13, 2021 (spaceflight) - March 22, 1931 (birthday) = 90 y. 6 m.

Edward: May 19, 2024 (spaceflight) - September 9, 1933 (birthday) = 90 y. 8 m.

In any case, huge respect to both!

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks, I added Ed Dwight to my answer. I was not expecting Shatner's record to be beaten so soon! $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 5 at 23:27

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