Britannica's SpaceNext 50 - Space facts and statistics you should know.

Numbers are one of the most important ways to gain a richer understanding of space. Ever since people began looking to the sky, they’ve been describing it in numbers. In fact, one of the central tasks of astronomy is figuring out numbers that describe one thing: distance. Some of these numbers are very large, while some are very small. The ones that fall in the middle will surprise you too. You’ll find on this page a collection of facts about everything from the size of the universe to the business of space.

All of these facts and numbers add up to a vivid portrait of space.

Expanding space

There are 170 billion galaxies in observable universe yet there is also a "future visibility limit."

Tens of thousands of galaxies have been cataloged but only a few have been given well-established name like the Andromeda galaxy, the Milky Way, the Magellanic clouds, the Whirlpool Galaxy and the Sombrero Galaxy.

Most galaxies are between 1,000 and 10,000 parsecs in diameter. A parsec is a astronimcal unit of length. To put the number into perspective, one parsec is equivalent to approximately 31 trillion km, or 19 trillion miles.

Space starts 62 miles (100 kilometers) above the surface of the Earth.

A spacecraft needs to travel at 11,000 miles per hour to get into orbit around Earth.

Funding NASA

NASA's annual budget in 1960 was $4 billion. In mid-1960, it reached nearly $5 billion.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), established in 1958, is an independent agency of the U.S. federal government responsible for the civilian space program as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.

NASA's budget for fiscal year 2019 was $21.5 billion. It represents 4% of the 2020 federal budget.
Since its inception, the United States has spent $601+ billion on NASA.

About space stations

Space Station is a place built in space so that astronauts can live and work in space

The International Space Station can hold a crew of six people.

438 Days. The Longest time spent in space on one mission is the 438 days spent aboard the Russian space station Mir by cosmonaut Valery Polyakov in 1994-95.
In 2012, a machine made by NASA called 'Curiosity' landed on Mars to find any evidence of life, such as creatures and plants.

About the pioneers who headed into space

By 2011, 520 different individuals from 38 different countries had gone into orbit; 465 of these space fliers were men, and 55 were women.

The first person in space was Yuri Gagarin from the Soviet Union, who travelled into orbit around the Earth in 1961.
Two U.S. astronauts, Franklin Chang-Díaz and Jerry Ross, made seven spaceflights, the most by any single individual.
The youngest person to go into space was Gherman Titov, who was 25 when he flew on the Vostok 2 mission in 1962.
The oldest astronaut was John Glenn, who was 77 when he flew on the space shuttle in 1998.
The first man to walk on the Moon was an American called Neil Armstrong in 1969.

Space satellites and the mighty industry behind them

It is projected that between 2023 and 2027 governments worldwide will invest $93 billion in space exploration.

Revenue is generated from building, launching, and operating satellites.

From 2008 and 2017, the global satellite industry almost doubled in size, reaching nearly $270 billion U.S. dollars.

By 2040 government spending in the global space economy is expected to increase by $181 billion.

It was speculated that space tourism company Blue Origin, owned by Jeff Bezos, could charge between $200,000 and $300,000 for a single ticket to space.

Elon Musk’s company SpaceX planned to increase its number of launches fourfold between 2020 and 2040.

Space may be limitless, but the space we orbit is starting to fill up.

To support the Outer Space Treaty, four other treaties were put into place in the 1960s and ’70s to support peaceful space exploration. These treaties (referred to below by their nicknames) are:

The “Rescue Agreement” (1968), formed to give astronauts assistance during an unintended landing or when facing an emergency.

The “Liability Convention” (1972), outlined considerations if a space object causes damage or loss to human life.

The “Registration Convention” (1975), drawn up to help nations keep track of all objects launched into outer space.

The “Moon Agreement” (1979), gave more detail on the Outer Space Treaty regarding property rights and usage of the Moon and other celestial bodies in the solar system (except for objects that naturally enter Earth from these bodies, namely, meteorites). Signed by only 16 nations, all minor players in space exploration.

Top Image Credit: Orla-Orlando Florin Rosu/