Commander Alan Shepard piloted his slot xo Mercury Freedom 7 spacecraft 116 miles above the planet's surface to become the first American to reach Earth orbit.

On Sunday, Sir Richard Branson was taken to an altitude of 50 miles aboard Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Unity spacecraft.

This discrepancy lies in the fact that since the beginning of the Space Age Earth's exoplanet superpowers never really existed to end Earth's atmosphere and where "space",

loosely defined as it is, begins. Even within the US federal bureaucracy, different agencies use different standards. What NASA Mission Control considers is that the edge of space is 26 miles further

than what NOAA and the US Air Force have set. So the next time you find yourself soaring through the mesosphere, keep an eye on your altimeter if you Want to earn an astronaut badge?