According to this answer the minimum and maximum they could be were:

Pilots: Height between 62 and 75 inches. (1.57 to 1.90 meters)

Mission Specialists: Height between 58.5 and 76 inches. (1.49 to 1.93 meters)

It is quite understandable that there would be a maximum height so that they could fit into the capsule and so that there was not too much weight. Why was there a minimum height?

  • $\begingroup$ Similar size means can share $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 12, 2023 at 11:36
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Because they must be able to close the luggage bins! ;-) $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 13, 2023 at 10:01
  • $\begingroup$ The quick example is that a short astronaut might not have the arm length/reach to press a button or operate controls that are well within reach of an individual in closer to the median in size. $\endgroup$
    – Dragongeek
    Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 7:42
  • $\begingroup$ I thought the minimum height was 100 km. Oh, wait... $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 5:16
  • $\begingroup$ Having an astronaut who is 100 km tall would break almost every Guiness world record in every way $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 5:45

1 Answer 1


Everything that must interface with the human body must be designed to fit a certain range of body sizes. For example, in the early days of shuttle when airline-like operations were envisaged, the requirement was to design all crew equipment to fit 90% of the US adult population.

The normal complement of crew equipment will provide supplies for a standard crew of four for a mission of 7 days. The equipment is designed to be used in the Orbiter shirt-sleeve environment by 90 percent of the male/female population (the 5th to 95th percentile).

Space Shuttle Press Reference Manual (preflight version) (emphasis mine)

Examples of equipment affected:

  • launch and entry suits
  • EVA suits
  • toilet equipment
  • crew seating
  • escape equipment
  • emergency medical supplies

An example of small body size impacting mission ops occurred during STS-086. Astronaut Wendy Lawrence was planned to serve as a long-duration US crewmember on Mir. However, due to failures experienced on the Mir shortly before the mission was launched, the timeline of her stay was replanned to include an EVA repair. Unfortunately, Lawrence was too small to fit into the Russian EVA suit and so could not participate. This forced her to be replaced as the long duration crewmember by David Wolf.

awrence, Wolf, and Scott Parazynski standing side by side This NASA KSC photo shows STS-086 crewmembers Lawrence, Wolf, and Scott Parazynski standing side by side during pad escape training for that mission.

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    $\begingroup$ I was quite amused when I worked in NMR imaging (now known as MRI), and the machine I was working on was designed to the same 5-95% of the US adult population. It turned out that many more than 5% of patients could not fit in the tube, as the people who could afford to pay for an MRI formed a very skewed subset of the adult population who were rather bigger than the 95 percentile. Ooops! $\endgroup$
    – Neil_UK
    Commented Jan 12, 2023 at 15:53
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    $\begingroup$ ... presumably in the direction that makes them not fit in the tube ... $\endgroup$
    – davidbak
    Commented Jan 12, 2023 at 21:33
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    $\begingroup$ Could you label who is who in the photo? Lawrence can be guessed by her height, but it's hard to tell who is Wolf and who is Parazynski without clicking on external links. $\endgroup$
    – jaskij
    Commented Jan 13, 2023 at 8:43
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    $\begingroup$ @jaskij they literally have nametags sewed on their clothes. You will see that Scott is labeled "Too Tall" and Wendy "Too Short". $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 13, 2023 at 13:06
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    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble I did not think of that, but at least on my PC the photo is so small when displaying here on SE that I didn't realize the tags were there. When opening the photo in a separate tab and zooming in they are visible and readable though. $\endgroup$
    – jaskij
    Commented Jan 13, 2023 at 13:54

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