posted on Sep, 17 2007 @ 10:44 AM
The Kármán line (named for Physicist Theodore von Kármán) is regarded by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) as the edge of space,
and is 100 km (62 miles) above sea level.
The U.S. does not have a definition for the edge of space, but they consider anyone flying above 50 miles to be an "Astronaut" (they are actually
given their astronaut wings). This group includes the X-15 rocket plane pilots back in the 1960's who flew above 50 miles.
Spaceshipone reached levels above 100km, and the pilots of those flights (Mike Melvill and Brian Binnie) are considered to have "flown into
space" by the FAI standards.
Joe Kittenger's balloon went to about 20 miles -- not quite space by anyones standards -- but nevertheless a great feat (especially since he jumped
out of the balloon from that altitude!) By the way, he freefell for almost 5 minutes and his body reached speeds of over 600 mph while he fell! (his
terminal velocity was much greater because of the thin atmosphere at altitude.)