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Human Space Launch

Human Space Launch

The 52 years since the inauguration of human spaceflight have witnessed great strides in developing the technology required to support human life in orbit and beyond. Due to the fragility of human beings, crewed spacecraft and the launch vehicles used to deploy them in orbit must adhere to more stringent standards of reliability, temperature control, and radiation protection than their uncrewed counterparts. Crewed spacecraft also must be able to return their passengers to Earth, whereas most uncrewed spacecraft end their useful lives either in orbit or by burning up in the atmosphere.


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Two nations launched humans into the Earth’s orbit using their own space launch vehicles in 2016: Russia and China. Russia continued its space “ridesharing” service to the International Space Station (ISS), charging astronauts...

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