Till lately, the outer space was a no man’s land. Things moved there but slowly. Only a handful dared to even imagine going there, fewer still set foot on it. All this, is set to change. With a new set of players minding the business of inter-galactic travel nothing is going to remain private or unexplored… Even the sky is not the limit
By Cara Benette
Even five decades after the first human being stepped into the outer space, space travel, has been an exclusive preserve of governments, out of reach of a bulk of the planet’s seven billion people who hardly get an opportunity to travel freely or earn their astronaut wings. Till date only 546 humans from some 38 countries have traveled beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. A majority of them remained just a few hundred kilometers above the Earth’s surface, three of them only completed a sub-orbital flight; 533 reached the Earth orbit, 24 traveled beyond low Earth orbit and only 12 walked on the Moon.
All those who wished to go there had to hitch a ride in a Soviet, American or Chinese spacecraft. Even today, a handful of government organizations like NASA, Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), China National Space Administration (CNSA), European Space Agency (ESA), Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) dominate the outer space.
Since Vostok 1’s first human spaceflight in 1961, each visit ignited the human desire to stay longer each time and come back again. From a few hours to days and months, the Apollo, Salyut, Skylab, Mir and International Space Station programs taught humans to stay longer in the outer space. There was a time when Russian cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov held the record for the longest single spaceflight in human history. He stayed onboard Mir space station for more than 14 months (437 days 18 hours) during one trip. Sergei Krikalev broke his record and holds the record spending the maximum 803 days, 9 hours and 39 minutes, or 2.2 years in space over the span of six spaceflights on board Soyuz, Space Shuttle, Mir, and International Space Station. As on date, the longest period of continuous human presence in space is 14 years and 20 days on board the International Space Station.