The Most Extreme Human Spaceflight Records (Part 2) - Beyond The World
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The Most Extreme Human Spaceflight Records (Part 2)

Most spaceflights by an astronaut

This one is shared by two NASA astronauts. Franklin Chang-Diaz and Jerry Ross both went to space seven times aboard NASA’s space shuttles. Chang-Diaz made his flights between 1986 and 2002, while Ross made his between 1985 and 2002.

First spacewalks

The first-ever spacewalk was performed by Alexei Leonov, who performed a 12-minute spacewalk during Voshkod 2 on March 18, 1965. The astronaut later said that he had trouble getting back inside the spacecraft (his spacesuit ballooned) and that he also was close to getting heatstroke, but he made it back home safely.

The first American spacewalk was performed by Ed White on June 3, 1965. The first spacewalk by a woman wasn’t for nearly 20 years afterwards, when Svetlana Savitskaya performed a spacewalk on July 25, 1984, outside of the Salyut 7 space station. The first American woman to perform a spacewalk was Kathryn Sullivan, who left space shuttle Challenger on Oct. 11, 1984.

The first untethered spacewalk (one of only a handful performed) happened on Feb. 7, 1984, when Bruce McCandless used the Manned Maneuvering Unit to move away from space shuttle Challenger during mission STS-41-B.

Most spacewalks

Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Solovyev made 16 spacewalks over the course of five missions in the 1980s and 1990s.

Solovyev spent more than 82 hours outside his spacecraft on those excursions — another record. [The Top 10 Soviet and Russian Science Missions]

U.S. astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria has an American record of 10 spacewalks, with a total time spent outside of 67 hours 40 minutes. Close behind is the woman to make the most spacewalks; American astronaut Peggy Whitson, performed 10 spacewalks over several missions for a total time of 60 hours 21 minutes.

Longest single spacewalk

On March 11, 2001, NASA astronauts Jim Voss and Susan Helms spent 8 hours and 56 minutes outside the space shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station during the STS-102 mission, performing some maintenance work and preparing the orbiting lab for the arrival of another module.

It remains the longest spacewalk in history.

Biggest space gathering

It may sound unlucky, but the record for the largest human gathering in space stands at 13 – which was set during NASA’s STS-127 shuttle mission aboard Endeavour in 2009.

In July 2009, Endeavour docked with the International Space Station. The shuttle’s seven-person crew then went aboard the orbiting lab, joining the six spaceflyers already there. The 13-person party was the largest-ever gathering of people in space at the same time.

While subsequent NASA shuttle and station crews matched the 13-person record, it has never been topped.

Most women in space at once

This record stands at four women in orbit at the same time.

In April 2010, NASA astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson traveled to the International Space Station in a Russian Soyuz spaceship. She was soon joined on the orbiting lab by NASA astronauts Stephanie Wilson and Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger and Japan’s Naoko Yamazaki, who made the trip aboard the space shuttle Discovery on its STS-131 mission.

Most expensive spaceship

Member nations began building the International Space Station — which is about as long as a football field and boasts as much living space as a five-bedroom house — back in 1998. It was completed in 2012, although more expansions are in store.

This photo of the International Space Station was snapped by an STS-133 crew member on the space shuttle Discovery on March 7, 2011. (Image credit: NASA)

The cost for the orbiting lab was estimated at $100 billion in 2011. That makes the station the single most expensive structure ever built. The cost will continue to rise due to more modules and time operating the station.

Largest spaceship ever built

Once again, the International Space Station is the winner.

The orbiting lab is the product of five space agencies representing more than 15 countries. From one end of its backbone-like main truss to the other, it measures about 357.5 feet (109 meters) across. There are huge solar arrays at each end of the truss, and they have a wingspan of 239.4 feet (73 m).

Astronauts live inside a series of connected, pressurized modules that are attached to the main truss. These modules have a habitable space roughly equivalent to the interior cabin of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet. The station is currently staffed by six astronauts, but that population has jumped to between nine and 13 people when a visiting vehicle — like a Russian Soyuz or fully crewed NASA shuttle — was docked.Advertisement

The space station is so large that it can easily be seen by the unaided eye from the ground if skywatchers have clear skies and know where to look. The station appears as a fast-moving bright light that can outshine the brightest star (Sirius) or Venus, depending on viewing conditions.

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