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I was looking at the names of the crew for Soyuz TMA-16M (for the year long expedition) and I was thinking "wow that's an experienced crew!".

enter image description here

I looked up their combined experience and it shows as:

Total 1121.0342 days

Now, I guess I could go through every spaceflight shown on http://www.spacefacts.de/english/flights.htm and compute the total experience, but does anyone know if I'm right?

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  • $\begingroup$ How would you like this compared with crews that have more than 3 people on them? Like when there was a crew of 13? Or are you only asking about Soyuz crews? $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Mar 22 '15 at 21:22
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I wondered that also; but I was not meaning experience at ISS which arrived in several craft. Shuttle crew could be as large as 7 and soyuz 3; I actually did wonder if these three had more experience than any previous launch craft. $\endgroup$ – Brian Tompsett - 汤莱恩 Mar 22 '15 at 21:25
  • $\begingroup$ Fyi, STS-61a had a crew of 8. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Mar 23 '15 at 12:00
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    $\begingroup$ You could count experience differently as well. Number of days in space is useful experience for a long duration mission, but when you're launching I would count number of launches as more useful experience. Figuring out which mission had the highest "average launches per crew member" could be easy: find the people with the records then look at the crew of their last flight. $\endgroup$ – Nickolai Mar 23 '15 at 19:22
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I've crunched the numbers and can answer; my gut feeling was good, and in all 299 manned launches, no crew has a greater combined amount of time in space. My top 10 crew experience table is:

  1. Soyuz TMA-05M - 723.009 days : 3 Crew
  2. Soyuz TM-31 - 680.813 days : 3 Crew
  3. STS-102 - 651.844 days : 7 Crew
  4. Soyuz TMA-6 - 646.175 days : 3 Crew
  5. STS-134 - 635.706 days : 6 Crew
  6. Soyuz TMA-01M - 630.625 days : 3 Crew
  7. Soyuz TMA-3 - 602.949 days : 3 Crew
  8. Soyuz TMA-04M - 598.083 days : 3 Crew
  9. STS-88 - 572.844 days : 6 Crew
  10. Soyuz TM-33 - 561.703 days : 3 crew

The growth in spaceflight experience per launch can be illustrated on this graph:

Spaceflight hours versus time

@Nickolai raised an interesting point; what happens if you measure number of previous launches averaged by crew size, you get the following experience rankings:

  1. Soyuz TMA-3 - 9 launches : 3 Crew (3.00)
  2. Soyuz TM-21 - 8 launches : 3 crew (2.67)
  3. Soyuz TM-31 - 8 launches : 3 crew (2.67)
  4. Soyuz TMA-11M - 8 launches : 3 crew (2.67)
  5. Soyuz TMA-16M - 8 launches : 3 crew (2.67)
  6. STS-80 - 13 launches : 5 crew (2.60)
  7. STS-103 - 18 launches : 7 crew (2.57)
  8. Soyuz T-13 - 5 launches : 2 crew (2.50)
  9. STS-79 - 15 launches : 6 crew (2.50)
  10. STS-88 - 15 launches : 6 crew (2.50)

The growth is launch experience per launch can be shown in the following graph:

Launch experience versus time

So, we can conclude, the TMA-16M crew are the most experienced by space experience but amongst the most experienced by launch counts.

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  • $\begingroup$ The answer has been updated to include all 299 manned launches. Took a while to tabulate all the data. The information on launch experience was previously incorrect. $\endgroup$ – Brian Tompsett - 汤莱恩 Apr 9 '15 at 12:22

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