What is Near-Space?

What is near space, or edge of space?

Near space is the zone between air space and outer space. While there is no official boundary defining where space actually begins; a marker known as the Karman Line which resides at 62 miles (100km) above sea level is conventionally used to define the border between aeornautics and astronautics.

When we speak of near space we speak of the space that occupies from 65,000 feet (12 miles) to 325,000 feet (62 miles) above sea level.

For reference satellites usually occupy space at approx 200 miles (320  km) and above.

The Hubble Space Telescope orbits at approx. 380 miles (600 km) above sea level.

Near space is of course more accessible that outer space. As there is less interference, traffic and vulnerability there than in outer space it is the favoured area for communication systems and surveillance and monitoring devices.

The vehicles that traverse this high altitude domain are called nearcraft. These include sub-orbital rockets, which make quick jumps into and out of near space, and high-altitude balloons that can loiter there for extended periods.

The U.S states that people that travel above an altitude of 50 miles (80 km) are classed as astronauts meaning some of the start-up companies offering near space (or edge of space) travel could make your childhood dream of becoming an astronaut a reality