Outer space, or simply space, is the void that exists between celestial bodies, including the Earth. It is not completely empty, but consists of a hard vacuum containing a low density of particles: predominantly a plasma of hydrogen and helium, as well as electromagnetic radiation, magnetic fields, and neutrinos. The baseline temperature, as set by the background radiation from the Big Bang, is 2.7 kelvin (K). Plasma with a density of less than one hydrogen atom per cubic meter and a temperature of millions of kelvin in the space between galaxies accounts for most of the baryonic (ordinary) matter in outer space; local concentrations have condensed into stars and galaxies. Intergalactic space takes up most of the volume of the Universe, but even galaxies and star systems consist almost entirely of empty space.

There is no firm boundary where space begins. However the Kármán line, at an altitude of 100 km (62 mi) above sea level,[3] is conventionally used as the start of outer space in space treaties and for aerospace records keeping. The framework for international space law was established by the Outer Space Treaty, which was passed by the United Nations in 1967. This treaty precludes any claims of national sovereignty and permits all states to freely explore outer space. In 1979, the Moon Treaty made the surfaces of objects such as planets, as well as the orbital space around these bodies, the jurisdiction of the international community. 

Humans began the physical exploration of space during the 20th century with the advent of high-altitude balloon flights, followed by manned rocket launches. Earth orbit was first achieved by Yuri Gagarin of the Soviet Union in 1961 and unmanned spacecraft have since reached all of the known planets in the Solar System. Achieving low Earth orbit requires a minimum velocity of 28,100 km/h (17,500 mph), much faster than any conventional aircraft. 

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