Special Report

The Number of Space Travelers Every Year Since Space Travel Began

NASA / Archive Photos via Getty Images

Since Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin of the Soviet Union became the first human to go into space in 1961, more than 500 people have traveled into the great beyond. Some estimates, including those from the United States Air Force, put the total at 628.

Over the 61-year span, the human pathways into the so-called final frontier have been marked by triumph, milestones, discovery, wonder, and tragedy. And people continue to push the boundaries of human endeavor into space.

To determine the number of individuals who went into space every year since 1961, 24/7 Tempo, referred to data from Worldspaceflight.com, Spacefacts, Space.com, NASA, encyclopedic sources, and various media websites to compile this list. We tallied only those who had gone into space for the first time in a particular year for this list.

The first decade of space travel involved competition between the Soviet Union and the United States, as the two superpowers took their Cold War confrontation beyond the confines of Earth. The first space travelers from both countries were affiliated with the military. Gradually the two programs began including scientists and those from other fields in space travel. 

The Soviet Union exploited its early advantage after the launch of the first satellite Sputnik in 1957 with some notable space firsts. Besides Gagarin’s initial space journey, other Soviet Union triumphs included the first woman in space in 1963, Valentina Tereshkova, and the first person to walk in space, Alexei Leonov, in 1965.

The U.S. was playing catch-up and there were tragedies along the way. A major setback occurred in 1967 when Apollo 1 astronauts Virgil Grissom, Edward White, and Roger Chaffee died during a routine ground test of the capsule. It would not be the last disaster for the U.S. space program. (These are the most important events in NASA’s history.)

The Apollo program vaulted the United States into the technological lead, and on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first human to walk on the moon. Though other nations have landed space probes on the lunar surface, only the U.S. has actually landed people there. (These are the 12 people who have walked on the moon.)

Click here to see the number of space travelers every year since space travel began

Competition gave way to cooperation between the United States and Soviet Union in the 1970s as the two former space adversaries carried out joint missions starting in July 1975. 

Space travel became more or less routine in the 1980s with the start of the space-shuttle program and the launch of the international space station, which became truly international as other nations began providing space travelers for the ISS.

Dennis Zito became the first paying space tourist in 2001, and private companies, led by maverick mogul Elon Musk, are leaping into the realm.

1961
> Number of unique people who went to space: 2
> Number of space flights: 2 Soviet
> Notable person or achievement: Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becomes the first human in space, aboard the Vostok. He was followed by German Titov in another flight later in 1961.

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Source: NASA / Archive Photos via Getty Images

1962
> Number of unique people who went to space: 4
> Number of space flights: 3 U.S., 2 Soviet
> Notable person or achievement: John Glenn becomes the first American in orbit aboard the Mercury spacecraft.

Source: FPG / Archive Photos via Getty Images

1963
> Number of unique people who went to space: 3
> Number of space flights: 1 U.S., 2 Soviet
> Notable person or achievement: Valentina Tereshkova becomes first female cosmonaut.

1964
> Number of unique people who went to space: 3
> Number of space flights: 1 Soviet
> Notable person or achievement: First spacecraft with three crew members

Source: MPI / Archive Photos via Getty Images

1965
> Number of unique people who went to space: 12
> Number of space flights: 1 Soviet, 5 U.S.
> Notable person or achievement: Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov becomes the first person to leave a space capsule in a space walk. Edward White is the first U.S. astronaut to do so three months later.

Source: NASA / JPL

1966
> Number of unique people who went to space: 10
> Number of space flights: 5 U.S.
> Notable person or achievement: First orbital docking involving U.S. spacecraft.

Source: MPI / Archive Photos via Getty Images

1967
> Number of unique people who went to space: 1
> Number of space flights: 1 Soviet
> Notable person or achievement: Cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov crashes on re-entry, becoming the first human fatality during a space flight.

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Source: Space Frontiers / Archive Photos via Getty Images

1968
> Number of unique people who went to space: 7
> Number of space flights: 2 U.S., 1 Soviet
> Notable person or achievement: Apollo 7 – first live TV broadcast from American spacecraft. Apollo 8 – first crewed lunar orbit.

Source: NASA / Getty Images

1969
> Number of unique people who went to space: 20
> Number of space flights: 4 U.S., 5 Soviet
> Notable person or achievement: Neil Armstrong of the U.S. becomes first human to walk on the moon.

Source: NASA

1970
> Number of unique people who went to space: 2
> Number of space flights: 1 U.S., 1 Soviet
> Notable person or achievement: Cosmonaut endurance test. Apollo 13 moon landing aborted

Source: Space Frontiers / Archive Photos via Getty Images

1971
> Number of unique people who went to space: 8
> Number of space flights: I U.S., 2 Soviet
> Notable person or achievement: Apollo 15 crew was the first to use a lunar roving vehicle.

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Source: NASA / Getty Images

1972
> Number of unique people who went to space: 4
> Number of space flights: 2 U.S.
> Notable person or achievement: Apollo 17 was the last mission in which humans traveled to the moon.

Source: MPI / Archive Photos via Getty Images

1973
> Number of unique people who went to space: 11
> Number of space flights: 3 U.S., 2 Soviet
> Notable person or achievement: First Skylab missions. U.S.-Soviet political tensions that had accelerated the space race began to thaw. Competition gave way to cooperation between the two nations with the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.

Source: MPI / Archive Photos via Getty Images

1974
> Number of unique people who went to space: 3
> Number of space flights: 2 Soviet
> Notable person or achievement: Two Soviet Soyuz missions for military reasons and for endurance.

Source: Space Frontiers / Getty Images

1975
> Number of unique people who went to space: 4
> Number of space flights: Joint Soviet-American mission
> Notable person or achievement: First crewed international space mission, carried out jointly by the United States and the Soviet Union.

Source: MPI / Archive Photos via Getty Images

1976
> Number of unique people who went to space: 4
> Number of space flights: 1 Soviet
> Notable person or achievement: Soviet Union flew three flights to Salyut 5 space station in 1976. The objectives were mainly military.

Source: NASA / Getty Images

1977
> Number of unique people who went to space: 4
> Number of space flights: 1 Soviet
> Notable person or achievement: Soviet Union ended one space station, Salyut 5, and then started another, Salyut 6, featuring the first long-duration crew.

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Source: Space Frontiers / Archive Photos via Getty Images

1978
> Number of unique people who went to space: 5
> Number of space flights: 5 Soviet
> Notable person or achievement: First non-U.S.-Soviet space travelers — Vladimir Remek of Czechoslovakia and Miroslaw Hermaszewski from Poland.

Source: Space Frontiers / Archive Photos via Getty Images

1979
> Number of unique people who went to space: 2
> Number of space flights: 2 Soviet
> Notable person or achievement: Soyuz 32 was the third long-duration crew to man the space station.

Source: Space Frontiers / Archive Photos via Getty Images

1980
> Number of unique people who went to space: 7
> Number of space flights: 6 Soviet
> Notable person or achievement: More space travelers from communist countries Vietnam, Cuba, and Hungary on Soyuz flights.

Source: Space Frontiers / Archive Photos via Getty Images

1981
> Number of unique people who went to space: 6
> Number of space flights: 2 U.S., 3 Soviet
> Notable person or achievement: Robert Crippen is first new U.S. space traveler in five years. First space shuttle flight.

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Source: Space Frontiers / Archive Photos via Getty Images

1982
> Number of unique people who went to space: 8
> Number of space flights: 3 U.S., 2 Soviet
> Notable person or achievement: Jean-Loup Chrétien was the French person to fly on a joint French-Soviet mission

Source: NASA

1983
> Number of unique people who went to space: 17
> Number of space flights: 3 U.S., 2 Soviet
> Notable person or achievement: Sally Ride became the first American woman in space. Guion Bluford was the first African-American in space.

Source: Space Frontiers / Archive Photos via Getty Images

1984
> Number of unique people who went to space: 17
> Number of space flights: 5 U.S., 3 Soviet
> Notable person or achievement: Rakesh Sharma flew with the Soviet Union, becoming the first Indian person to fly into space. Anna Fisher of the U.S. became the first mother to fly in space.

Source: NASA / Archive Photos via Getty Images

1985
> Number of unique people who went to space: 40
> Number of space flights: 9 U.S., 1 Soviet
> Notable person or achievement: 1985 was a busy year for space travel with 10 missions.

Source: Space Frontiers / Archive Photos via Getty Images

1986
> Number of unique people who went to space: 7
> Number of space flights: 2 U.S.
> Notable person or achievement: NASA lost a crew of seven in the 1986 Challenger accident. First expedition to Soviet space station Mir.

Source: Space Frontiers / Archive Photos via Getty Images

1987
> Number of unique people who went to space: 4
> Number of space flights: 3 Soviet
> Notable person or achievement: Soyuz TM-4 was a crewed Soyuz spaceflight to Mir, launched on Dec. 21, 1987.

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Source: Space Frontiers / Archive Photos via Getty Images

1988
> Number of unique people who went to space: 5
> Number of space flights: 1 U.S., 3 Soviet
> Notable person or achievement: STS-27 was the 27th space shuttle mission, and the third flight of space shuttle Atlantis. It was the second shuttle flight after the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.

Source: Space Frontiers / Archive Photos via Getty Images

1989
> Number of unique people who went to space: 8
> Number of space flights: 5 U.S.
> Notable person or achievement: Deployment of Galileo and Magellan probes.

Source: Space Frontiers / Archive Photos via Getty Images

1990
> Number of unique people who went to space: 17
> Number of space flights: 5 U.S., 3 Soviet
> Notable person or achievement: STS-36 space shuttle carried a classified payload

Source: Space Frontiers / Archive Photos via Getty Images

1991
> Number of unique people who went to space: 22
> Number of space flights: 6 U.S., 1 Soviet, 1 United Kingdom
> Notable person or achievement: Helen Sharman became Britain’s first astronaut. The Soyuz TM-13 mission included cosmonauts from Austria and Kazakhstan.

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Source: Space Frontiers / Archive Photos via Getty Images

1992
> Number of unique people who went to space: 23
> Number of space flights: 8 Shuttle missions, 2 Russian
> Notable person or achievement: Eight shuttle missions in 1992. Nine different nations sent people into space.

Source: Space Frontiers / Archive Photos via Getty Images

1993
> Number of unique people who went to space: 18
> Number of space flights: 6 Shuttle missions, 2 Russian
> Notable person or achievement: 88 experiments conducted by 11 nations on STS-55.

Source: Space Frontiers / Archive Photos via Getty Images

1994
> Number of unique people who went to space: 16
> Number of space flights: 6 Shuttle missions, 3 Russian
> Notable person or achievement: Soyuz TM-20 was the twentieth expedition to the Russian Space Station Mir.

Source: Space Frontiers / Archive Photos via Getty Images

1995
> Number of unique people who went to space: 17
> Number of space flights: 7 Shuttle missions, 2 Russian
> Notable person or achievement: Eileen Collins became the first female commander and first woman pilot of a space shuttle on Space Transportation System (STS)-63.

Source: Space Frontiers / Archive Photos via Getty Images

1996
> Number of unique people who went to space: 15
> Number of space flights: 4 Shuttle missions, 2 Russian
> Notable person or achievement: STS-72 was a mission to capture and return to Earth a Japanese microgravity research spacecraft.

Source: nasacommons / Flickr

1997
> Number of unique people who went to space: 16
> Number of space flights: 5 Shuttle missions, 2 Russian
> Notable person or achievement: Soyuz TM-26 was a Russian spaceflight that ferried cosmonauts and supplies to Mir.

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Source: Space Frontiers / Archive Photos via Getty Images

1998
> Number of unique people who went to space: 16
> Number of space flights: 5 Shuttle missions, 2 Russian
> Notable person or achievement: STS-91 was the final space shuttle mission to the Mir space station.

Source: Space Frontiers / Archive Photos via Getty Images

1999
> Number of unique people who went to space: 6
> Number of space flights: 3 Shuttle missions, 1 Russian
> Notable person or achievement: STS-96 was a space shuttle mission to the International Space Station (ISS) flown by Space Shuttle Discovery, and the first shuttle flight to dock at the International Space Station.

Source: NASA / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

2000
> Number of unique people who went to space: 7
> Number of space flights: 3 Shuttle missions, 1 Russian
> Notable person or achievement: The primary objective of the mission of STS-99 was the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission project.

Source: Newsmakers / Getty Images

2001
> Number of unique people who went to space: 12
> Number of space flights: 6 Shuttle missions, 2 Russian
> Notable person or achievement: Soyuz TM-32 was a crewed Soyuz spaceflight that docked with the International Space Station. The crew included the first paying space tourist Dennis Tito.

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Source: NASA / Getty Images News via Getty Images

2002
> Number of unique people who went to space: 17
> Number of space flights: 5 Shuttle missions, 2 Russian
> Notable person or achievement: STS-111 was a space shuttle mission to the International Space Station flown by Space Shuttle Endeavour.

Source: Getty Images / Getty Images News via Getty Images

2003
> Number of unique people who went to space: 5
> Number of space flights: 1 Shuttle, 1 Chinese
> Notable person or achievement: STS-107 was the 113th flight of the space shuttle program, and the final flight of Space Shuttle Columbia. An in-flight break-up during re-entry into the atmosphere on Feb. 1 killed all seven crew members and disintegrated Columbia. On Oct. 15, 2003, China became the third nation to independently launch an astronaut into Earth orbit atop its own Long March 2F rocket.

Source: Getty Images / Getty Images News via Getty Images

2004
> Number of unique people who went to space: 5
> Number of space flights: 2 private flights, 2 Russian
> Notable person or achievement: Flight 15P of SpaceShipOne was the first privately funded human spaceflight. It took place on June 21, 2004.

Source: NASA / Getty Images News via Getty Images

2005
> Number of unique people who went to space: 5
> Number of space flights: 1 Shuttle, 1 Russian, 1 Chinese
> Notable person or achievement: STS-114, or Discovery, was the first “Return to Flight” Space Shuttle mission following the Columbia disaster.

Source: NASA / Getty Images News via Getty Images

2006
> Number of unique people who went to space: 12
> Number of space flights: 3 Shuttle, 2 Russian
> Notable person or achievement: STS-115 was a space shuttle mission to the International Space Station flown by Space Shuttle Atlantis. Anousheh Ansari was the first female space tourist.

Source: NASA / Getty Images News via Getty Images

2007
> Number of unique people who went to space: 13
> Number of space flights: 3 Shuttle, 2 Russian
> Notable person or achievement: Soyuz TMA-10 was a mission using a Soyuz-TMA spacecraft to transport personnel to and from the International Space Station.

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Source: Handout / Getty Images News via Getty Images

2008
> Number of unique people who went to space: 22
> Number of space flights: 4 Shuttle, 2 Russian, 1 Chinese
> Notable person or achievement: Shenzhou 7 was the third human spaceflight mission of the Chinese space program. It included the first Chinese extra-vehicular activity.

Source: NASA / Getty Images News via Getty Images

2009
> Number of unique people who went to space: 22
> Number of space flights: 5 American, 4 Russian
> Notable person or achievement: STS-125 was the fifth and final mission to the Hubble Space Telescope and the last solo flight of the space shuttle Atlantis.

Source: NASA / Getty Images News via Getty Images

2010
> Number of unique people who went to space: 9
> Number of space flights: 1 shuttle, 4 Russian
> Notable person or achievement: STS-131 was a mission to the International Space Station and the longest for space shuttle Discovery.

Source: NASA / Getty Images News via Getty Images

2011
> Number of unique people who went to space: 5
> Number of space flights: 3 Russian
> Notable person or achievement: All space missions were Russian in 2011. Soyuz TMA-21, also called “Gagarin” in homage to the first person in space.

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Source: Lintao Zhang / Getty Images

2012
> Number of unique people who went to space: 5
> Number of space flights: 3 Russian, 2 Chinese
> Notable person or achievement: Shenzhou 9 was the second spacecraft and first crewed mission and expedition to dock with the Tiangong-1 space station. The crew included the first Chinese female astronaut, Liu Yang.

Source: Space Frontiers / Archive Photos via Getty Images

2013
> Number of unique people who went to space: 6
> Number of space flights: 3 Russian, 1 Chinese
> Notable person or achievement: One widely reported event of this mission was the space lecture by space traveler Wang Yaping.

Source: NASA / Getty Images

2014
> Number of unique people who went to space: 5
> Number of space flights: 4 Russian
> Notable person or achievement: Samantha Cristoforetti performed the longest single spaceflight by a woman.

Source: NASA / Getty Images

2015
> Number of unique people who went to space: 5
> Number of space flights: 3 Russian
> Notable person or achievement: Soyuz TMA-17M transported three members of the Expedition 44 crew to the International Space Station.

2016
> Number of unique people who went to space: 6
> Number of space flights: 4 Russian, 1 Chinese
> Notable person or achievement: Shenzhou 11 was a crewed spaceflight of the Shenzhou program of China. It was China’s sixth crewed space mission.

2017
> Number of unique people who went to space: 4
> Number of space flights: 3 Russian
> Notable person or achievement: Soyuz MS-06 was a Soyuz spaceflight that transported three members of the Expedition 53 crew to the International Space Station.

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Source: Bill Ingalls/ NASA / Getty Images

2018
> Number of unique people who went to space: 5
> Number of space flights: 3 Russian
> Notable person or achievement: Four Soyuz missions launched in 2018. Soyuz MS-10 was a crewed Soyuz MS spaceflight that aborted shortly after launch on Oct. 11. It was the first Russian crewed booster accident in 35 years.

Source: Bill Ingalls/NASA / Getty Images News via Getty Images

2019
> Number of unique people who went to space: 5
> Number of space flights: 3 Russian
> Notable person or achievement: Soyuz MS-13 was a crewed Soyuz mission launched on July 20, 2019 – the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing – carrying three members of the Expedition 60 crew to the International Space Station.

Source: Red Huber / Getty Images News via Getty Images

2020
> Number of unique people who went to space: 3
> Number of space flights: 1 U.S., 2 Russian
> Notable person or achievement: SpaceX Crew-1 was the first operational crewed flight of a Crew Dragon spacecraft, and the maiden flight of the Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft.

Source: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

2021
> Number of unique people who went to space: 26
> Number of space flights: 5 private flights, 3 Russian, 1 Chinese
> Notable person or achievement: Most first-time travelers ever in one year, including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

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Source: NASA / Getty Images News via Getty Images

2022
> Number of unique people who went to space: 19
> Number of space flights: 4 private flights, 1 Russian, 1 Chinese
> Notable person or achievement: Three private companies launched rockets in 2022 as of June 5.

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