How long does a space journey last?

International Space Station missions, known as expeditions, usually last about six months. During a mission, there are three to six crew members on board. There are several professional space travelers who come from countries such as the United States, Russia, Europe, Canada and Japan. The Spanish-American space traveler Mike López-Alegria has flown the longest mission of the US space station to date, with 215 days.

Former cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov has spent 14 months aboard the Russian space station Mir. However, space travel used to last only two weeks during the existence of the Space Shuttle. William Shatner, who for decades explored space on screen as Captain Kirk from Star Trek, has finally plunged to the last frontier. A trip to Proxima Centauri, the closest star system to the Sun, would take about 4 years to arrive, which is remarkable considering that it is 4.3 light-years away.

But for someone aboard the rapidly moving object, whether it's a particle, a train, or a spaceship, the cosmic distances you try to cover will be the ones that contract. Currently, the Russian space station Mir is a place where astronauts can stay for long periods of time, and these effects are being investigated. At 82, Funk, a longtime advocate for women in space, joined Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on Blue Origin's flight to the edge of space in July. One of the biggest challenges faced by human beings who want to make long-term trips in space is the biological effects of not having the Earth's gravity.

NASA has been working with SpaceX and Boeing on their systems for the past 10 years, transferring knowledge from more than 60 years of manned spaceflight and innovation into low Earth orbit. If a “second” corresponds to a trip back and forth between mirrors, a moving object will need more time for that trip to take place. Astronauts work in mission control and analyze the different techniques and agendas that the group will use in space, help check the programming of the space station and vehicles, create systems and procedures that will be used during spacewalks or mechanical operations. From the perspective of someone at rest, time will seem to decrease significantly for the spacecraft the closer it gets to the speed of light.

Just like muscles have to work less to move through space, bones aren't as necessary. On Wednesday, the 90-year-old became the oldest person in space, a title briefly held by Mary Wallace Wally Funk and formerly held by legendary astronaut John Glenn. On extended space travel, your muscles could weaken so much that it would be difficult for you to stand upright once you return to an environment where you are subject to gravity. From the point of view of a relativistic traveler, they would spend less than 4 years on a trip to any of these stars.

Because the speed of light is a constant for all observers, for someone who moves through space (in relation to stars, galaxies, etc.).

Jeannie Eschenbrenner
Jeannie Eschenbrenner

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