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Chinese launch yesterday set record for number of humans in space

The launch yesterday of three Chinese astronauts to that country’s Tiangong-3 space station established a new record, seventeen, for the number of humans in space.

The launch of the next crew to China’s Tiangong space station late Monday (U.S. time) added three astronauts to the population of humans in space, which reached a record number of 17 people in orbit — six Chinese citizens, five Americans, three Russians, two Saudis, and one Emirati astronaut.

The arrival of Chinese astronauts Jing Haipeng, Zhu Yangzhu, and Gai Haichao in space following their launch atop a Long March rocket broke the previous record of 14 people in orbit at one time.

Meanwhile, the four-person crew of the commercial AX-2 mission to ISS, has undocked from ISS, with SpaceX’s Freedom capsule expected to splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico at 11:09 pm (Eastern) tonight.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

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  • Ray Van Dune

    NextSpaceFlight indicates that the targeted splashdown time of AX-2 is 23:09 EST this evening.

  • Ray Van Dune: My eyes no longer see as well as they used to. I misread the time and pm. Now fixed.

  • Edward

    Around 2016, when Falcon 9 was just starting to be reusable, ULA predicted that there would be 20 people working in space by 2021. They may not have been so very far off in their optimism. (7 minutes, “ULA CisLunar-1000”)

    ULA has abandoned some of the plans mentioned in the video, but these can be replaced by other companies and their plans.

    The video mentions that about half the energy needed to get anywhere in the solar system is just getting into Earth orbit. Here is a delta-v chart:

    Scott Manley mentioned this record number of people in space in his recent “space updates” video: (watch 2 minutes)

    Manley mentions that the Virgin Galactic flight last week resulted in 20 people in space, but this Chinese launch puts 17 people in orbit. A distinction with a difference. Manley also says that the SpaceX documents in the lawsuit against the FAA regarding Starship launches show that SpaceX has spent $5 Billion on Starship and the Boca Chica sites. My reading of the documents was that they have spent only $3 billion or so. Manley also says that Starship is expected to cost $2 billion per year for future development, but Starlink is now bringing in revenues with (last I heard) 1-1/2 million subscribers; this should bring in $2 billion per year. More as subscriptions increase. Last year’s 60 or so Falcon launches should have brought in around $4 billion in launch revenue.

    Robert’s posting reminds us that the manned utilization of space is growing, and that China is a major player in this growth. Manned space is starting to shape up in the way that, in the last half of the 2010s decade, we had expected for this decade.

    Exciting times.

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