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, 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, 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, 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?


Assigned 24 times


COMMENTS (23)
  • jm1999gizmo
    4/15/2015 - 08:39 a.m.

    i beleave that there is no end and that it goes foever for ever and that there is no boundreys in space.
    there probably meany diffrent planents that we dont know about ether.

  • Js2001ege
    4/15/2015 - 08:40 a.m.

    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, because our atmosphere

  • TF000Music
    4/15/2015 - 01:02 p.m.

    Space doesn't end, it just thins out. Which is understandable because I just thought that space does not end in the first place, that space was a continuous force that didn't end.

  • Blaker-2
    4/15/2015 - 07:25 p.m.

    In this article it talks about where space begins but it says theres no internationally answer that every one agrees with. This question refers to where space starts from our atmosphere and a scientist, Theodore Von Karman says that a space flight is officially 62 miles or more over.I think that this is an interesting topic because no one is really right.

  • JB2001Blue
    4/16/2015 - 08:39 a.m.

    I believe that space doesn't have an end to it. It's infinite and I guess particles/atoms came together and created planets and lands. Then, human came into this world with animals.

  • danielv-Goo
    4/16/2015 - 11:51 a.m.

    Space amazing because it's so big and we have so much to discover up there. Text states "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?" The text also states "If you're looking to set a world record, though, the International Air Sports Federation raises that bar to 62 miles, the minimum altitude necessary to be considered a space flight." If you get the chance to be able to travel or be in space you are a lucky person because space isn't easy to get accessed to.

  • jaacklahaye52
    4/16/2015 - 01:10 p.m.

    Why can't normal planes go to space? Well I did a little bit of research and the reason why is the plane's wing takes the air and pretty much rides on the air. When you get higher up the atmosphere the air gets thinner and thinner making it unable to go to space. Every plane is different ; Some planes can go up to 7.5 miles high, others can go much higher than that. How about their rockets? What is the difference between plane rockets and space rockets? Airplane rockets and space rockets are little bit different. Space rockets don't need air to push them as airplane rockets do.

  • NashMcComsey-Ste
    4/16/2015 - 01:25 p.m.

    I think, as a species, we have more research to doprior to finding a more definite answer to that question. Certainly, however, we can draw theories about it, and those are always the most interesting reads.

  • CapeleyZ-1
    4/16/2015 - 09:33 p.m.

    This article was about where space ends. As it turns out, there is no definite answer. Scientists around the world have been trying to figure out the answer to that question but thy just haven't been able to come to an agreement. The fact that their is no definite answer makes sense considering that our atmosphere doesn't abruptly end, but instead gets thinner and thinner. I think it is weird to think that space could truly be infinite.

  • JM2001april
    4/17/2015 - 08:58 a.m.

    Space does not end for a fat but it is to be said that space gradually thins out. The maximum that space strethes out that is known is 62 miles out but nothing is for sure

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