Where does space begin? (NASA / Thinkstock)
Where does space begin?
Lexile

You asked us, where does space begin?

Amazingly enough, there isn't an answer to that question. At least not one that's internationally agreed upon and legally binding. Which makes sense. That's because our atmosphere that thin sheet of air that wraps our planet doesn't end abruptly. It gradually thins out.

Coming back down to earth, let's say you wanted to turn your astronaut wings from the U.S. Air Force. How high would you need to fly? Well, get yourself more than 50 miles above the planet's surface and you're golden.

If you're looking to set a world record though, the International Air Sports Federation raises that bar to 62 miles. That's the minimum altitude necessary to be considered a space flight. That limit is named after Hungarian scientist Theodore Von Karman.

He suggested it in the 1950s. That's because above it, normal aircraft wings become useless. Which is just one of the many, many reasons why space flight is tricky business.

For more stories like this, check us out every day, at Smithsonian.com.

Critical thinking challenge: Where does space end?


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COMMENTS (16)
  • Tiffany0307-yyca
    4/15/2015 - 09:10 p.m.

    I think that's it's very strange that there is not really an answer for where does space begin. It is sort of weird, I guess, because I think we don't have a beginning to space at all because space never ends and if it doesn't end, then space shouldn't begin with anything at all. But this article was also interesting for me because I never knew that there were supposed to be wings that went up to 62 miles because that is way too intense for (I think) pretty much, anyone.
    Critical Thinking Challenge: Where does space end?
    Answer: Space ends nowhere. It's because there can't possibly be some sort of other place out there in space.

  • JuanR-Ver
    4/17/2015 - 09:08 a.m.

    Nobody knows where space begins but in a couple years someone will invent a machine or something that will give us the answer.

  • ChristianAcuna
    4/26/2015 - 07:18 p.m.

    answer for critical thinking question: Maybe, we will never know where does space end, but I think that space has no end, during many years people have been looking for mysteries like, where does space end? however we don't have any answers. To me, the space is infinite and it is always expanding and getting bigger, perhaps in the future we will be able to find some answers for this kind of mysteries, nevertheless, it's possible that we can never find the end of the space.

  • KnightA-Sua
    5/07/2015 - 07:12 p.m.

    I am not sure where space ends. Maybe it does not end. I don't think astronauts have flown out far enough to know if there is a real end. Matter in fact, I don't think there would be an end. There are just more and more stars and planets. Maybe I will find out some time in my lifetime if space is explored more.

  • CirilloP-Sua
    5/07/2015 - 07:15 p.m.

    Space does not end. space begins at 62 miles up above earth. But space does not end well no one knows. People are probably not ever going to find if space ends. Space goes so far that is why we will never find out it goes like infinity miles long.

  • ShecklenZ-Sua
    5/07/2015 - 07:22 p.m.

    Space ends 62 miles.

    1. It. Says it in the story

    2. A guy did it

    3. He had somebody write about him and they found out about the end of space

  • LiCausiM-Sua
    5/07/2015 - 08:42 p.m.

    I don't know where space ends. I always thought that space never ends. I thought that people who would look for the end of space would die in space. It doesn't say in the story where space ends. There is no end of space that we know of yet and I think we ever will.

  • HocogJ-Sua
    5/07/2015 - 08:48 p.m.

    I think space never ends. The reason why I think this is because space might be growing. Another reason why I think this is because if there is no start, there might not be an end. Also because we haven't seen it before. These are the reasons why I think space never ends.

  • StoneM-Sua
    5/07/2015 - 09:09 p.m.

    I have three answers to the question that was asked about where does space end, here are my answers. First, space dose not end it goes on forever or as far as we can go.Next, the space around the earth ends when the thin wrap of air so that's when earth's space ends.Last, I am sure there will so be a person who finds out when dose space end but until that happens no one knows when space ends. Those are my reason on the question where dose space end.

  • MayerS-Sua
    5/07/2015 - 09:44 p.m.

    No one know's if space ends or stops but I believe space never ends. I think that space goes on for every and every. No one knows if space goes on forever or if it stops because no one has been able to travel that far in to space. People do not know how space began's of ends.That is why space never ends or how people do not know how it began.

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