Have you ever looked at the sky in the night and wondered how far is it to space? Well, if you have, you are not the only one with those curious thoughts in minds. Every sci-fi movie based on outer space must have made you wonder at some point about how many miles it takes to get to space. Whether it was Gravity, Interstellar, or Star Wars, or any of these all-time favourite space movies, each one of them intrigued you with the mysteries of outer space.
But how far is space from the ground?
Conventionally, the Karman line is used to denote the start of the outer space. It is an altitude of 100 km above the sea level that demarcates the boundary between the earth’s atmosphere and outer space. It was named after Theodore von Karman, an astrophysicist who first came up with the idea.
This is the most commonly accepted definition and is also recognized by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), an international governing body that governs everything from ballooning to human space flight. No aeronautical flight is supported above the distance of 100 km. The rocket and spacecraft engineers also accept this as a finite distance to check if they are able to handle the rigors of space.
Even NASA complies with the Karman Line definition but not the US Air Force. They will reward the title of ‘astronaut’ to anyone who has flown 80 km above the sea level, even 50 km sometimes. If you ask the designers and operators of US space shuttle how many miles away is space, it is 76 miles (122 km). According to them, this is the distance when shuttles could experience the atmospheric drag and that affected how they were steered to landing.
But what really is outer space?
In simple words, it is space that takes place beyond the earth’s atmosphere. Space is a vacuum. As you must already be knowing, the atmosphere is a mixture of gases that is supporting life on this earth. As we go higher, the air gets thinner and the chances of life become bleak. There comes a point when it is no different from space.
Is space really that far though?
To be honest, no one has ever been able to define a fixed boundary for the outer space. The atmosphere just gets thinner and thinner until it is almost gone. Even the International Space Station (ISS) that orbits around 400 km away from earth is impacted by its gravity and atmosphere. See how many miles to space from the ground it is and yet in a constant pull towards earth.
There is no definite answer to how many miles away is space. 62 miles (100 km) is how many miles into space. Let’s accept this distance until the scientists come up with another theory.
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