If you’ve ever looked at the night sky and been stunned by its vastness, then you’re not alone. You’ve probably even considered sticking your hand through the infinite sky and picking out a couple of stars?
Fantasies aside, humans have traveled incredibly far and deep into space, but do you know just how far we’ve gone? In this article, we’re going to discuss not only how far humans have traveled in space but how far we’ve made our presence felt.
Read on for more information about how far we have traveled in space and find out about the exciting things humans have accomplished when they have been away from the pull of gravity!
The Farthest We’ve Ever Traveled
The all-American crew of the iconic Apollo 13 spacecraft is the record holder for the greatest distance traveled by humans in space when they traveled 400,171 kilometers away from planet Earth. No craft has beaten this record since the 1970s.
Apollo 13 was the third manned mission that attempted to land on the surface of the Moon and is just the seventh space mission that America’s Apollo program has ever launched. The crew, which consisted of three members, achieved flight when departing from the Kennedy Space Center on the 11th of April, 1970, in Florida. The crew consisted of Jack Swigert, Jim Arthur Lovell, and Fred Haise.
Apollo 13’s Modules
The Apollo 13 spacecraft was outfitted with three primary modules – the Command Module (CM), Service Module (SM), and Lunar Module (LM), and each of these served a unique purpose on the mission.
The Service Module, which was the first module, was made to provide the crew with their main consumables, like oxygen, water, and power to sustain the mission in space. It was also Apollo 13’s main propulsion system and the first error that would occur in the mission.
The Command Module is next and was responsible for controlling the spacecraft through the crew’s compartment. One of the CM’s most important purposes was to get the crew back to Earth safely when they re-entered the atmosphere.
Finally, the Lunar Module was made to bring the ship to a stop on the Lunar surface, and also provided the three crewmates with living quarters. This module was essential to the crew when chaos exploded.
A Problem With Apollo
Originally, Apollo 13’s mission was to land upon the surface of the Moon and learn more about the Fra Mauro formation, but its primary mission defaulted after the ship suffered an explosion in the tank in the Service Module that provided the crew with oxygen, which had a crippling effect on the Command Module in turn. A scarcity of water, limited power, and a lack of heat in the cabin were but a few of the serious issues that stopped the crew from achieving a safe landing on the surface of the Moon.
In the interest of the crew’s safety, a group of engineers and scientists at Houston devised a life-saving plan. To get the crew safely back to Earth, they instructed them to maneuver the shuttle to a free turn trajectory and make use of the gravity of the Moon to slingshot their way back to Earth.
In order for this to be possible, the spacecraft drifted over the ‘dark’ side of the Moon at a 254-kilometer altitude from the surface, which made it the greatest distance that humans have ever traveled into the universe. It’s been more than five decades since this occurrence, and we have yet to surpass this record with manned missions.
The Spaceship with Clyde Tombaugh’s Ashes
If you don’t mind getting more technical with the presence that humanity has in space, then a human has actually traveled much farther than just the Moon. A craft known as New Horizons was launched back in 2006 and transported the ashes of Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto. And it’s traveling to, you guessed it, Pluto.
Clyde’s story is just as exciting as that of the Apollo 13 astronauts. He was originally a farmer and had a knack for using agricultural tools as well as other parts to create his own telescope. In the 1920s, he came into contact with someone who worked at the Lowell Observatory, and his telescope design was passed to said observatory.
They were quite impressed by his detailing and design of the telescope, and Tombaugh was subsequently offered a position at Lowell, which he gladly accepted.
Before his passing in 1997, Clyde had repeatedly expressed his desire to have his remains sent into space after he died. NASA honored this wish by placing his ashes in their New Horizons probe with an inscription that reads: “Interred herein are the remains of American Clyde W. Tombaugh, discoverer of Pluto and the solar system’s ‘Third Zone’, Adelle and Muron’s boy, Annette and Alden’s father, astronomer, teacher, punster, and friend: Clyde W. Tombaugh (1906-1997).”
The Farthest a Man-Made Object Has Traveled in Space
When it comes to man-made objects, humans have traveled even further.
The Voyager 1, which is a probe that NASA launched in the 1970s, is the farthest-reaching man-made object we have sent into space. It is also the record-holder for being the longest-operating, still-active spacecraft, and even four decades after launch, scientists have been communicating with Voyager 1, though this communication is a fairly slow process.
Currently, it takes over 20 hours for signals to travel from Voyager 1 to reach Earth. Since its launch, the craft has journeyed more than 13,000,000,000 (billion) miles and is currently cruising at more than 38,000 m/h.
Voyager 1 has been able to move out of the solar system and into the stars, and has escaped the influence of our own Sun.
Humans have performed some incredible feats when it comes to space travel, having sent man to the Moon and probes so much further beyond. The International Space Station (ISS) is by far the greatest accomplishment that man has ever made, and it’s exciting to think about what might come next in our space journey.
So now you know exactly how far we have traveled in space – perhaps you will be the next person to visit the ISS and wave at earth from above?