NASA has designated Matthias Maurer (crewmember of SpaceX CrewDragon 3) as the 600th person to fly in space. Leaving aside the question of whether those who flew with Branson and Bezos should be counted in this total, how (and why) is Maurer singled out for this honour, when his fellow crewmembers Raja Chari and Kayla Barron were also making their first flight? Shouldn't they all be counted equally?

  • $\begingroup$ I really hope it's calculated from real spacecraft attitude data from the launch together with the seating arrangement. One of the three must have crossed some threshold altitude a microsecond or so before the others. Looking forward to an answer! $\endgroup$
    – TooTea
    Commented Jan 26, 2022 at 13:42
  • $\begingroup$ That would have been brilliant @TooTea - but no, it's rank/position $\endgroup$
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Jan 26, 2022 at 14:14
  • $\begingroup$ FWIW, back in the Space Shuttle days, were were told (not sure if it was true) that the Commander's seat was an inch or so closer to the nose of the Orbiter than was the Pilot's seat. Thus, the commander got to space first... $\endgroup$
    – Digger
    Commented Jan 26, 2022 at 22:00

1 Answer 1


There is an order, based on the position they have on the mission. You can see this pretty clearly on Jonathan McDowell's excellent website. In this instance, the 3 astronauts in question were:

AS-00599 Chari, Raja Jon Vurputoor                Col USAF           1977 Jun 24  -             US       US WI   A    1    1    70:02:37:59*  M - -     -     Chari, R.                      SPXC3/CDR                                                                                 Chari, Raja Jon Vurputoor
AS-00600 Maurer, Matthias                         PhD                1970 Mar 18  -             D        D       A    1    1    70:02:37:59*  M - -     -     Maurer, M.                     SPXC3/MS1                                                                                 Maurer, Matthias
AS-00601 Barron (Sax), Kayla Jane                 Lt USN             1987 Sep 19  -             US       US ID   A    1    1    70:02:37:59*  F - -     -     Barron, K.J.                   SPXC3/MS2  

So Raja Chari was the Commander, and thus got the 599 spot. 600 belongs to Matthias Maurer, who was the first Mission Specialist. 601 goes to Kayla Barron. Every mission has an either position based or just number based order, which leads to the assigned order in to space. Of some note, the pilot would have been the second on the list, but the pilot had previously flown to space.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! BTW Chari is the first rookie to command a US space flight since Gerry Carr on Skylab 4... $\endgroup$
    – GordonD
    Commented Jan 26, 2022 at 22:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @GordonD Joe Engle (Commander of STS-2) had never flown to orbit before (had astronaut wings from X-15) $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 26, 2022 at 22:24
  • $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble Fair point! $\endgroup$
    – GordonD
    Commented Jan 27, 2022 at 10:11
  • $\begingroup$ @GordonD I had wondered about it, thinking it really strange to have a commander that was a rookie, particularly with a non-rookie pilot. Huh. $\endgroup$
    – PearsonArtPhoto
    Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 1:57

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