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Including the suborbital flight of Alan Shepard, what altitudes did the first men in space reach? I am looking for a list of maybe the first 5-10 people who reached orbit, but also the first suborbital flights around that period.

An infographic gets bonus points!

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  • $\begingroup$ What about X-15 flights? They got 'astronaut' wings for those flights. $\endgroup$ – geoffc May 15 '14 at 16:25
  • $\begingroup$ I considered asking about those flights as well, but wanted to keep it simple. $\endgroup$ – Stu May 15 '14 at 16:47
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This really depends on your definition of astronaut. The Google definition is:

a person who is trained to travel in a spacecraft.

I'd suggest that the first person ever trained to travel in a spacecraft never actually flew. Again this depends on your definition of training though I suppose.

However I fear this isn't the answer you're looking for. If you're definition is the first man into space then we're talking about Yuri Gagarin, at 324.9 km apogee.

Interestingly if you type "yuri gagarin altitude" into Google it tells you his height - either that or he flew a very low spacecraft at some point. Put together the two facts from this answer and what do you have? Nonsense!. :)

Edit: The following apogee altitudes are in kilometres. They are ordered by launch date.

Vostok 1    324.9       (Gagarin)
Mercury 3   187.5       (Shepard, suborbital)
Mercury 4   190.31      (Grissom, suborbital)
Vostok  2   244         (Titov)
Mercury 6   265         (Glenn)
Mercury 7   260         (Carpenter)
Vostok  3   218         (Nikolayev)
Vostok  4   211         (Popovich)
Mercury 8   283         (Schirra)
Mercury 9   267         (Cooper)

Enjoy!

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    $\begingroup$ stand 206,000 Yuri's on top of each other and the last one will reach his apogee. $\endgroup$ – Stu May 15 '14 at 15:39
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    $\begingroup$ yup, that's perfect! thanks. interesting how no one reached Yuri's apogee for a long time.. $\endgroup$ – Stu May 15 '14 at 15:55
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    $\begingroup$ Yuri only got to 5'2" altitude? Oh man! All those wasted nights in April to celebrate Yuri's Night for nought. $\endgroup$ – David Hammen May 15 '14 at 17:18
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    $\begingroup$ IIRC there was a specific purpose behind the low altitude of the early Soviet flights: the Vostoks/Voskhods were supplied to allow astronaut survival for two weeks, which was the time for the capsule to deorbit due to natural orbit decay - in case deorbiting engines fail. $\endgroup$ – SF. Jan 28 '16 at 18:30
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    $\begingroup$ Russian uses the same word for height and altitude so maybe Google is thrown off by bad translation? $\endgroup$ – ventsyv Jan 28 '16 at 19:39

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