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List of heaviest spacecraft is a listing of selected spacecraft by mass. Spacecraft may change mass over time such as by use of propellant. The heaviest artificial objects to reach space include space stations, various upper stages, and discarded Space Shuttle external tanks.

Between 1994 and 1998 the Shuttle-Mir complex of docked spacecraft was the heaviest artificial object in orbit (when docked), growing heavier from its start as Mir continued to be expanded.[1] It weighed at least 250 tonnes (250 long tons; 280 short tons) in a 1995 configuration.[2]

Currently the heaviest spacecraft is the International Space Station, nearly double Shuttle-Mir's mass in orbit. It began assembly with a first launch in 1998, however it only attained its full weight in the 2010s, due to its modular nature and gradual additions. Its mass can change significantly depending on what modules are added or removed.

All numbers listed below for satellites use their mass at launch, if not otherwise stated.

Selected spacecraft (by mass)Edit

Name Mass Notes Orbit State In service from
Space Shuttle Endeavour docked to ISS on STS-134 541,285 kg (1,193,329 lb) International Space Station and Space Shuttle Endeavour LEO In Service May 2011
ISS 419,455 kg (924,740 lb) International Space Station LEO In Service 1998– (at present size: 2011–)
Mir-Shuttle complex 200,000–250,000 kg
(440,925–551,156 lb)
Russian-U.S. project[1][3] LEO Retired/Deorbited 2001 1994–1998
Mir 129,700 kg (285,940 lb) Russian Space Station LEO Deorbited 2001 1986–2001
Space Shuttle Atlantis on STS-117 122,683 kg (270,470 lb) U.S. crewed reusable orbiter on its heaviest flight LEO Retired 1985–2011
Buran 105,000 kg (231,485 lb) Soviet reusable orbiter, made single flight LEO Retired 1988–1988
Skylab 77,111 kg (170,001 lb) U.S. Space Station; largest station orbited in one launch LEO Deorbited 1979 1973–1979
Apollo CSM 28,800 kg (63,493 lb) U.S. crewed spacecraft for entering lunar orbit Moon Retired 1968–1975 (Block II)
ATV 20,293 kg (44,738 lb) European cargo spacecraft on its heaviest flight LEO Retired 2008-2014
Salyut 7 19,824 kg (43,704 lb) USSR Space Station LEO Deorbited 1991 1982–1991
KH-11 ~19,600 kg (43,211 lb)[4] Electro-optical reconnaissance satellite SSO In Service 1976– (current version: 2005–)
Salyut 1 18,425 kg (40,620 lb) USSR Space Station LEO Deorbited 1971 1971–1971
TKS 17,510 kg (38,603 lb) Soviet crewed spacecraft LEO Retired 1977–1985
Proton satellite 17,000 kg (37,479 lb) Space research satellite LEO Deorbited 1969 1965–1969
Apollo Lunar Module 16,400 kg (36,156 lb) U.S. crewed lunar lander Moon Retired 1968–1972
Compton Gamma Ray Obs. 16,329 kg (35,999 lb) Space observatory[5] LEO Deorbited 2000 1991–2000
Lacrosse 14,500 kg (31,967 lb)-
16,000 kg (35,274 lb)
Radar imaging reconnaissance satellite[6] SSO Retired 1988-2005
Hubble Space Telescope 11,110 kg (24,493 lb) Space observatory[7] LEO In Service 1990–
Tiangong-2 8,600 kg (18,960 lb) Chinese Space Station LEO In Service 2016–
Tiangong-1 8,506 kg (18,753 lb) Chinese Space Station LEO Deorbited 2018 (April) 2011–2016
Envisat 8,211 kg (18,102 lb) Earth observing satellite[8][9] Kessler syndrome threat[10] LEO In Orbit, Inoperable 2002–2012
Comparison only
Heaviest commercial
geosynchronous
communication satellites
~7,000 kg (15,432 lb) Communications satellite GEO N/A N/A
Soyuz 7,080 kg (15,609 lb) Russian crewed spacecraft (latest revision used for mass) LEO In Service 1967– (current version: 2016–)
Telstar 19V 7,075 kg (15,598 lb) Communications satellite GEO In Service 2018–
TerreStar-1 6,910 kg (15,234 lb) Communications satellite GEO In Service 2009–
EchoStar XXI 6,871 kg (15,148 lb) Communications satellite[11] GEO In Service 2017–
UARS 6,540 kg (14,418 lb) Earth science[12] LEO Deorbited 2011 1991–2005
Chandra X-ray Obs. 5,865 kg (12,930 lb) Space observatory[13] HEO In Service 1999–
GSAT-11 5,854 kg (12,906 lb) Communications Satellite GEO
Cassini-Huygens 5,655 kg (12,467 lb) Saturn orbiter and Titan probe [14] Saturn Deorbited 2017 1997–2017
Terra 4,864 kg (10,723 lb) Earth observing satellite GEO In Service 1999–
ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter 4,332 kg (9,550 lb) Mars orbiter (including Schiaparelli EDM lander)[15] Mars In Service 2016–
GPS IIIA 3,880 kg (8,554 lb) Current GPS Satellite series MEO In Service 2018–
Spektr-R (RadioAstron) 3,660 kg (8,069 lb) Space observatory[16] HEO In Service 2011–
Juno 3,625 kg (7,992 lb) Jupiter orbiter[17] Jupiter In Service 2011–
Herschel 3,400 kg (7,496 lb) Space observatory Earth-Sun L2 Retired 2009–2013
Galileo 2,562 kg (5,648 lb) Jupiter orbiter and probe[18] Jupiter Deorbited 2003 1989–2003
MAVEN 2,454 kg (5,410 lb) Mars orbiter[19] Mars In Service 2013–
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter 1,846 kg (4,070 lb) Lunar orbiter[20] Moon In Service 2009–
Astrosat

1,513 kg (3,336 lb)

India's first dedicated multi wavelength space telescope-Space Observatory Near Equatorial Orbit In Service 2015–
Mars Orbiter Mission 1,337.2 kg (2,948 lb) Mars Orbiter Mars In Service 2013–
Venus Express 1,270 kg (2,800 lb) Venus orbiter Venus Deorbited 2015 2005–2014
MESSENGER 1,093 kg (2,410 lb) Mercury orbiter[21] Mercury Deorbited 2015 2011–2015
Voyager 1 / Voyager 2 815 kg (1,797 lb) Outer planets / interstellar space[22] Solar Escape In Service 1977–
New Horizons 465 kg (1,025 lb) Pluto/Kuiper belt probe[23] Solar Escape In Service 2006–

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Mir Space Station". nasa.gov. Retrieved 2017-09-16.
  2. ^ David S. F. Portree (March 1995). "Mir Hardware Heritage" (PDF). NASA. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 3, 2009. Retrieved March 30, 2007.
  3. ^ Broad, Willaim J. (1995-06-29). "Shuttle Set for Rendezvous Today With Russia's Mir". New York Times. Retrieved 2017-09-16.
  4. ^ Richelson, Jeffrey T. (2001). The Wizards of Langley. Inside the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology. Westview Press, Boulder. ISBN 0-8133-4059-4.p.199-200
  5. ^ "Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory". NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive. Retrieved 2017-09-16.
  6. ^ "Onyx 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (Lacrosse 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)". space.skyrocket.de. Retrieved 2018-12-30.
  7. ^ "Fact Sheet". ESA/Hubble access-date=2017-09-16.
  8. ^ "Envisat Space Segment". ESA Earth Online. Retrieved 2017-09-16.
  9. ^ "Envisat Orbit". Heavens Above. Retrieved 2017-09-16.
  10. ^ Gini, Andrea (25 April 2012). "Don Kessler on Envisat and the Kessler Syndrome". Space Safety Magazine. Retrieved 2012-05-09.
  11. ^ "EchoStar 21". Retrieved 2017-07-06.
  12. ^ Justin Mullins, Paul Marks (20 September 2011). "Hardy 6-tonne satellite falls to Earth". New Scientist. Retrieved 25 September 2014. "This is the largest NASA satellite to come back uncontrolled for quite a while," says Nick Johnson, chief scientist for NASA's Orbital Debris Program Office at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  13. ^ "Chandra X-ray Observatory Quick Facts". Marshall Space Flight Center. Retrieved 2017-09-16.
  14. ^ "Cassini". NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive. Retrieved 2017-09-16.
  15. ^ Elizabeth Gibney (11 March 2016). "Mars launch to test collaboration between Europe and Russia". Nature News. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  16. ^ "RadioAstron User Handbook" (PDF). RadioAstron Science and Technical Operations Group. 29 July 2015. Retrieved 2017-09-16.
  17. ^ "Juno Mission to Jupiter" (PDF). NASA FACTS. NASA. April 2009. p. 1. Retrieved 2017-09-16.
  18. ^ "Galileo Jupiter Arrival" (PDF) (Press Kit). NASA / Jet Propulsion Laboratory. December 1995. Retrieved 2017-09-16.
  19. ^ Graham, William (2013-11-17). "Atlas V launches MAVEN en route to Martian adventure". NasaSpaceFlight.com.
  20. ^ "Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)". NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive. Retrieved 2017-09-16.
  21. ^ "MESSENGER". NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive. Retrieved 2017-09-16.
  22. ^ "Voyager 1". Goddard Space Flight Center. Retrieved 2017-09-16.
  23. ^ "New Horizons Pluto Kuiper Belt Flyby". NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive. Retrieved 2017-09-16.