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Demographics of human spaceflight

17 November, 2020

A total of 568 humans have been into space under the international definition of an astronaut set by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale — which specifies achieving an altitude higher than 100 kilometres (62 miles; 330,000 feet) and crossing the Kármán line.

This data visualisation examines the demographics of all individuals that have travelled into space including age, time in space, number of missions to space, sex and nationality. Data is based on each individual's first time in space.

Age

The youngest individual in space was Gherman Titov (age 25, USSR) who went into space in August 1961. When John Glenn (age 77, USA) travelled aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in October 1998 he became the oldest individual to travel into space. However, Glenn first went into space at age 41 in January 1964 as part of the Mercury program.

Michael Melvill (age 63, USA) became the oldest individual to travel into space for the first time in June 2004. The average (mean) age of individuals first travelling into space is 39.9 years and the most common (mode) age is 37 years with 58 individuals (or 9.9%) being of this age.

25 63 years of age currently in space

Time in space

Gennady Padalka (Russia) has spent the most time in space with 878 days in orbit. Peggy Whitson (USA) has spent the most time in space for an American with 665 days in orbit. With many missions involving long stays on the Mir and International Space Stations, the average (mean) time spent in space is 97.4 days. However the most common (mode) time spent in space per individual is 7 days, with only 38 (6.7%) of all individuals having spent this amount of time in orbit.

Three individuals have spent less than half an hour in space: Brian Binnie (around five minutes, USA), Michael Melvill (around ten minutes, USA) and Joseph Walker (22 total minutes, USA). Binnie and Melvill crossed the Kármán line while in the SpaceShipOne (in June and October 2004 respectively) while Walker crossed the Kármán line in an X-15 in July 1965.

878 days in space currently in space

Number of missions to space


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The majority (64.4%) of individuals into space have been travelled on multiple missions. Franklin Chang-Diaz (USA) and Jerry L. Ross (USA) have both flown seven Space Shuttle missions — the most number of missions into space. Joseph Walker (USA) crossed the Kármán line on two missions in July and August 1963 — however each flight was only 11 minutes in length.

7 missions currently in space

Sex

Only 64 (11%) of humans in space have been female. The first female in space was Valentina Tereshkova (USSR) in June 1963. However, it was 19 years before another female went into space when Svetlana Savitskaya (USSR) entered into orbit in July 1982. The following year Sally Ride (USA) became the first American woman in space in June 1983.

Male - 504 (89%) Female - 64 (11%) currently in space

Nationality

Some countries that have sent their citizens into space no longer exist; below is a rationalised list showing the primary nationality of all humans in space — specifically the flag patch they wore on their space suit.

There are also many dual nationals in this list. Seven British-born astronauts have gone into space, but only Helen Sharman and Tim Peake have worn a British flag on their space suit — Piers Sellers, Nicholas Patrick, Gregory JohnsonGregory Johnson, Michael Foale and Richard Garriott all went into space under the US flag.

USA - 349 (59%) USSR - 72 (12%) Russia - 52 (9%) Japan - 12 (2%) China - 11 (2%)
Canada - 10 (2%) France - 10 (2%) Italy - 7 (1%) Germany - 7 (1%) Other - 38 (7%) currently in space

Credits and sources

The data used here is mostly from the Wikipedia article List of astronauts by first flight and subsequent data on each individual that has been into space. The raw data can be viewed as a Google Spreadsheet. It was compiled, written and visualised by James Offer. Please send any corrections or comments to me at jamesoffer@gmail.com. All content is available under the Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence.