105 votes
Accepted

What is the closest distance a human being has come to Mars ever since the beginning of the space age?

Let's start with some basic facts, which helps narrowing it down: Humans have not been outside the Earth-Moon system. Except from the Apollo program, humans have not been outside low Earth Orbit. The ...
SE - stop firing the good guys's user avatar
46 votes

Which object has been to space the most times?

The Space Shuttle Discovery has been to orbit a total number of 39 times, more than any other shuttle vehicle (source: Wikipedia). Contrasting that to other candidate objects: Space Shuttles Atlantis,...
Justin Braun's user avatar
  • 2,275
37 votes

Without the accident, would Apollo 13 still have been the farthest crewed mission from the Earth?

You've hit on a really interesting question. To answer this, I'm going to look at JPL Horizons, using the center of the Earth and the center of the Moon as the distances provided. I'm going to look at ...
PearsonArtPhoto's user avatar
  • 121k
31 votes
Accepted

How long will it take Elon Musk's roadster to become the fastest ever car?

It'll take a hot minute. According to the FlightClub.io simulation, the Falcon Heavy flight will be doing 138.7 m/s (496 km/h) at the 30 second mark, beating the Koenigsegg Agera RS. It should hit ...
Russell Borogove's user avatar
30 votes
Accepted

Who were the youngest and oldest persons in space?

As of October 13, 2021, the oldest person to fly in space is Canadian actor William Shatner (T.J. Hooker, Boston Legal), aged 90. This was a brief suborbital flight above the Kármán line on Blue ...
Russell Borogove's user avatar
26 votes

What artificial satellite has the farthest orbit around the Earth?

note: @BillGray's answer of XL8D89E is the highest and the correct answer! I found the following "far out" spacecraft: TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) recently launched, not in ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
23 votes
Accepted

When was the last time that an incandescent light bulb was launched into space?

December 2011. At that time, Soyuz TMA-03M flew to ISS. On its successor, TMA-04M, its SMI-4 light was replaced with a LED headlight. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soyuz_MS phrases it: the old ...
Camille Goudeseune's user avatar
22 votes

Without the accident, would Apollo 13 still have been the farthest crewed mission from the Earth?

I believe the answer is yes, but just barely. The distance from the Earth to the moon varies significantly over time, from 356,400 to 406,700 km. I plugged the dates of orbital entry and departure ...
Russell Borogove's user avatar
22 votes

What are the most-delayed missions that eventually launched successfully?

For shuttle at least, I believe the longest delay was the torturous launch flow of STS-35. (tl;dr it was delayed six months.) Using the criteria in the Space Shuttle Missions Summary, namely ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
22 votes
Accepted

What is the lowest first stage thrust for a launch reaching orbit?

The U.S. Vanguard rocket reached orbit three times with a first stage thrust of only 125 kN. The first stage of the three-stage Vanguard Test vehicle was powered by a GE X-405 28,000 pound (~125,000 ...
2012rcampion's user avatar
  • 2,550
21 votes

What is the closest distance a human being has come to Mars ever since the beginning of the space age?

Even if Apollo 11's crew would build a Moon base in 1969, and lived there until now, they would not be closer to Mars than without such base! Mars approaches Earth during opposition every couple of ...
Alexei Kopylov's user avatar
19 votes

What is the largest number of humans in space at the same time and what vessels were they on when it happened?

Today (2021 Sept 16th) there are 14 people in orbit and above 100 km altitude (Karman Line): 7 in the ISS 4 in SpaceX Inspiration4 3 in the Chinese Tiangong space station
GRIV's user avatar
  • 191
18 votes

What is the fastest rover that has ever traveled on the surface of an extra-terrestrial body?

The manned Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle from Apollo 17 holds the record of 17km/h achieved by Eugene Cernan. Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle was also present on Apollo 15 and 16. For traditionally ...
SF.'s user avatar
  • 55k
18 votes
Accepted

What was the "5 minute EVA"? What was the shortest-duration EVA ever?

As far as I've been able to find, the shortest EVA in history was also the first: Alexei Leonov's spacewalk on Voskhod 2 at 12 minutes, 9 seconds. On the US, side, Ed White's Gemini IV spacewalk ...
Russell Borogove's user avatar
18 votes
Accepted

Is there a record for unbroken series of "successful launches" by some objective criteria? Who has it now? What has to happen for it to change hands?

UPDATE EDIT: SpaceX is absolutely crushing it. On 31 May 2023, they completed their 200th successive successful launch, and they are poised to reach 300 in Q1 of 2024. Despite the continuation of ULA'...
Dragongeek's user avatar
  • 18.7k
17 votes
Accepted

What were the biggest and heaviest spacecrafts to safely return from orbit?

The heaviest space shuttle mission at landing (and an STS Orbiter is by far the heaviest craft to return from space intact) was STS-83 at 235,421 lbs (106,785 kg). This was a Spacelab mission which ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
17 votes

What is the furthest from Earth that a military spacecraft is thought to have been intentionally deployed or moved to?

There are other satellites that were launched that went beyond GEO: SOLRAD 11A and SOLRAD 11B by the US Naval Research Laboratory: SOLRAD 11A was one of a pair of identical satellites that were ...
mhoran_psprep's user avatar
16 votes
Accepted

Was Alexander Gerst the first man to have bare skin exposed to the vacuum of space and live?

No. It occurred previously on STS-37 in 1991. During an EVA, a glove was punctured; the astronaut's hand almost immediately sealed the hole. They didn't notice (remarkable as that sounds) until after ...
Andrew is gone's user avatar
16 votes

Highest DC voltage ever intentionally produced in space?

Potential answer (pun intended): 8000 volts for the Apollo television cameras. Several voltage levels must be accounted for: as much as 8 kilovolts are required at the tube photocathode, and various ...
DrSheldon's user avatar
  • 48k
15 votes

Highest DC voltage ever intentionally produced in space?

Linear accelerators have been employed in space. While "voltage" is perhaps not the right term, precisely, these do generate very high energy beams, and frequently using means (like RF, etc)...
J...'s user avatar
  • 807
14 votes
Accepted

Highest number of satellites launched on a single rocket

As of Feb 15, 2017, it is 104 satellites by India's ISRO. PSLV-C37 launched from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at 09:28 local time (03:58 UTC). ISRO-104 ISRO-ndtv UPDATE: (Jan. 24, 2021) As of Jan 24, ...
Sujay Phadke's user avatar
14 votes

What is the largest number of humans in space at the same time and what vessels were they on when it happened?

The latest record is 19, from December 11, 2021. 10 on the ISS with two overlapping SpaceX crews, in orbit. 3 on the Chinese Tiangong Space Station, in orbit. 6 on Blue Origin's sub-orbital NS-19 ...
Thorkil Værge's user avatar
14 votes
Accepted

Longest continuous burning chemical rocket engine?

As @OON mentions, some small spacecraft maneuvering engines do really long burns. Juno's orbital insertion burn at Jupiter is 35 minutes. Here are some notable launcher/bus stage burns: Ariane 5 ...
Russell Borogove's user avatar
14 votes

What are the most-delayed missions that eventually launched successfully?

269 Days, almost 9 Months HETE-2 was attached to its Pegasus launch vehicle in December, 1999, ready for a January launch. But then, NASA got cold feet. On January 14, 2000, they decided to postpone ...
John Doty's user avatar
  • 3,304
14 votes

What is the furthest from Earth that a military spacecraft is thought to have been intentionally deployed or moved to?

It is fairly trivial to disprove the "not above GEO" line, at least... Vela 1A was operated by the USAF and has a circular orbit in HEO at ~100000km perigee, for example. Things in Molniya ...
Starfish Prime's user avatar
13 votes
Accepted

How far from earth have atomic clocks (or ultra-stable oscillators) been placed and monitored?

There was Rb-based Ultra Stable Oscillator in outer space, delivered to Titan (VI moon of Saturn) inside the Huygens, brought there by Cassini. (DWE RUSO in http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/image/spacecraft/...
osgx's user avatar
  • 2,317
13 votes
Accepted

What artificial satellite has the farthest orbit around the Earth?

I don't have a list to find the highest, but I suspect that Spektr-R RadioAstron (used for long baseline radio interferometry) is one of the highest altitudes that isn't associated with a Lagrange ...
BowlOfRed's user avatar
  • 6,882
13 votes

Astronaut distance from Earth?

Highest altitude of all manned missions excluding Apollo: Gemini 11, 1372 km (leaving this here for reference: ) Highest altitude dated after Apollo: Space Shuttle STS-31R (the Hubble launch), 620 ...
Hobbes's user avatar
  • 128k
13 votes

What is the lowest first stage thrust for a launch reaching orbit?

@2012campion's answer shows that this was not the lowest thrust The smallest rocket to reach orbit is the Japanese SS520-5. It had a peak thrust of $185 kN$ according to the same web page: Firing up ...
Steve Linton's user avatar
  • 19.6k
13 votes

What was the "5 minute EVA"? What was the shortest-duration EVA ever?

The second shortest spacewalk was performed by Michael Fincke and Gennady Padalka on June 24, 2004 on Expedition 9 at the ISS. There was a problem with Michael Fincke's oxygen tank, and they were ...
Star Man's user avatar
  • 5,918

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