Where Can We Launch a Human into space?

Sending a human into outer space requires some special facilities. Going to space is still not routine and is not something particularly easy to do.

A piece of history

Humans have only ever been launched into outer space in three countries: Russia (ex-Soviet Union), USA and China. The Soviet Union was the first nation to send a cosmonaut to orbit.  Yuri Gagarin was launched on April 12th, 1961 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome located in Kazakhstan. USA followed on May 5th, 1961. The astronaut Alan Shepard was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida (USA). Finally, China sent the first taïkonaut Yang Liwei on October 15th in 2003 from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center (JSLC) in the Gobi desert (China).

In space today the human race is continuously represented onboard of the International Space Station (ISS). Usually, there is a crew composed of 6 astronauts. Right now on board the ISS there are 3 Russians, 2 Americans, and 1 Japanese. It is very easy to know how many people are in space right now thanks to this website: How Many People Are In Space Right Now ?

Launch sites around the world

The following map represents these launch sites and also some other interesting points.

Places where humans can reach space.

Places where humans can reach space.

Since the American Space Shuttle retired in 2011, only Russia is able to carry a crew to the ISS via the Baikonur Cosmodrome. USA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and Japan all rely now on the Russian Soyuz program for transporting humans to the ISS.  Regrettably, it reduces launching sites available to launch humans into space from three to two. Actually, NASA and ESA are jointly developing a Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) known as the Orion capsule. It is planned to be launched on-board of the Space Launch System (SLS) around 2020 probably from the Kennedy Space Center. SpaceX is also developing a variant of the Dragon capsule capable of transporting a crew on-board of a Falcon rocket. However, Soyuz has demonstrated that it is a reliable program and the technology has been developed for 50 years, making it the most experienced human space program. In 2013, President Vladimir Putin declared that Russia will launch crew to the ISS from Vostochny, a cosmodrome in eastern Siberia, near the Chinese border. This facility is currently under construction and is expected to be available around 2018.

China has also showed some capabilities to transport humans to outer space. Since the beginning of their program in 2003, they have already sent 10 people (including 2 women) in 5 missions to space. The future for Chinese human spaceflight from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center (JSLC) seems to be very promising. The Chinese have a vision for the Moon in 2020 and then, why not, Mars!

 Will India be the fourth nation to carry a human into space?

India invests a large amount of money into its human spaceflight program. This program should commence around 2020. The best India launch site is the Satish Dhawan Space Centre located in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. They plan to build facilities for astronaut training at this site.

Disappointing Europe!

ESA human space exploration especially with launching capability is underdeveloped! It means that the Guyana Space Centre, spaceport of France, in Kourou is not where people will lift off the ground anytime soon. ESA possesses one of the best launch sites in the world, due to its position being close to the equator and facing the Atlantic Ocean, but they only use it for commercial, military, and scientific purposes.

Many locations around the world have the potential to be wonderful space gates for astronauts.

Because we are all Born For Space!