The human race has always been fascinated with space exploration. Ever since Yuri Gagarin became the first human to journey into space in 1961, we have been sending more and more people into the cosmos. Today, there are several countries and private companies that are actively involved in space exploration, with the aim of unlocking the mysteries of the universe and expanding our knowledge of the cosmos.

As more and more countries and private entities enter the space race, the number of people in space is constantly changing. In this article, we will explore the average number of people in space, how it has evolved over time, and what it means for the future of space exploration.

Historical Overview

The first human spaceflight was conducted by the Soviet Union on April 12, 1961. Yuri Gagarin orbited the Earth once in a spacecraft named Vostok 1. The United States followed soon after, launching Alan Shepard into space on May 5, 1961, on a suborbital flight.

Over the next few years, both the Soviet Union and the United States sent more and more people into space. The early space missions were focused on testing equipment and procedures, as well as developing the technology required for longer missions.

The first spacewalk was conducted by the Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov on March 18, 1965. The United States conducted their first spacewalk on June 3, 1965, when Ed White floated outside the Gemini 4 spacecraft for 21 minutes.

The first crewed mission to the moon was Apollo 8, which was launched by the United States on December 21, 1968. The three-man crew orbited the moon ten times before returning to Earth.

The Soviet Union’s Soyuz spacecraft, which was first launched in 1967, has been used for crewed missions to this day. The United States retired their space shuttle program in 2011, but they continue to send astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) using Russian Soyuz spacecraft and, more recently, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Average Number of People in Space

The average number of people in space has fluctuated over time, depending on the number of missions being conducted and the duration of those missions. In the early years of human spaceflight, there were only a few people in space at any given time, and their missions were relatively short.

The first crewed space mission, Vostok 1, had only one occupant. The first US crewed space mission, Mercury-Redstone 3, also had only one occupant. It wasn’t until the Gemini program that two astronauts were sent into space together.

The average number of people in space began to increase in the 1970s, with the launch of the Soviet Union’s Salyut space station program. These space stations could accommodate three people at a time and were designed for longer missions.

The first Salyut space station was launched in 1971, and the program continued until 1986. During this time, the Soviet Union conducted a total of seven crewed missions to the Salyut stations, with a total of 24 cosmonauts spending time on board.

The Soviet Union’s successor, Russia, continued the Salyut program with the launch of the Mir space station in 1986. The first crew, consisting of three cosmonauts, arrived at the station on March 15, 1986. The Mir space station was occupied continuously until 2000, with a total of 28 cosmonauts and astronauts from various countries spending time on board.

The United States’ first space station was Skylab, which was launched in 1973. Skylab was occupied by three crews over the course of its existence, with a total of nine astronauts spending time on board. Skylab was deorbited in 1979, but it paved the way for future US space stations.

The US Space Shuttle program began in 1981 and marked a new era in human spaceflight. The space shuttle was capable of carrying up to eight astronauts at a time and was designed for longer missions. The space shuttle was used to build and service the International Space Station (ISS), which was launched in 1998.

The average number of people in space has increased significantly since the launch of the ISS. The ISS can accommodate up to six people at a time, and there are typically multiple crews visiting the station each year. The ISS has been continuously occupied since November 2000, with a total of 244 people from 19 different countries having visited the station.

As of May 2023, there are currently seven people in space. Four of them are aboard the ISS, while three are aboard the Chinese space station Tiangong.

Future of Space Exploration

The future of human space exploration is looking bright, with several countries and private companies planning missions to the Moon and Mars. NASA’s Artemis program aims to send astronauts back to the Moon by 2024, and eventually establish a permanent human presence on the lunar surface.

SpaceX, the private space company founded by Elon Musk, is planning to send humans to Mars in the mid-2020s. SpaceX has also announced plans to launch private space tourism missions, with the first one scheduled for later in 2021.

The Chinese National Space Administration is also planning to establish a permanent human presence on the Moon in the coming years. China’s Chang’e program has already landed several robotic missions on the lunar surface and is planning to launch a crewed mission to the Moon in the future.

With all these plans for future missions, the average number of people in space is likely to continue to increase. Longer-duration missions to the Moon and Mars will require more crew members, and the establishment of permanent human settlements on other planets will require even more people.

Conclusion

The average number of people in space has fluctuated over time, but it has steadily increased since the launch of the International Space Station. As more countries and private companies enter the space race, the number of people in space is likely to continue to increase.

The future of human space exploration is exciting, with plans to return to the Moon and establish a permanent human presence on other planets. As we continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in space, the number of people in space will only continue to grow.