Right now, NASA’s nuclear-powered spacecraft Voyager 1 is careening through dense solar winds on its way into interstellar space. It could take months, if not years, but eventually (barring any unfortunate turns) Voyager 1 will become the first human spacecraft to successfully leave our solar system.
As it stands, the Voyager 1 spacecraft represents the farthest we have traveled in space: nearly 18 billion kilometers from Earth.
How Far Have Humans Traveled?
The farthest any human has traveled, however, isn’t quite as impressive. It’s still an extraordinary story, though: While the crew of Apollo 13 didn’t complete their mission on the moon, they still became the first humans to travel beyond it. They swung around the moon during their emergency free return trajectory, reaching a distance from Earth of 400,171 km (248,655 miles), a record that has yet to be broken.
Of course, if you want to get technical, an ounce of the ashes of Clyde William Tombaugh, the man who discovered Pluto, is currently traveling aboard the New Horizons spacecraft, which is scheduled to pass Pluto some time in 2015. It’s already well beyond our moon, of course, making Tombaugh the human who has traveled farthest in space. In essence.
What awaits Voyager 1 beyond our solar system? Will humans ever pass the same threshold? Give us time, and I’m sure we’ll make it. Eventually.