Single-photon detectors (SPDs) play important roles in highly sensitive detection applications, such as fluorescence spectroscopy, remote sensing and ranging, deep space optical communications, elementary particle detection, and quantum communications. However, the adverse conditions in space, such as the increased radiation flux and thermal vacuum, severely limit their noise performances, reliability, and lifetime. Herein, we present the first example of spaceborne, low-noise, high reliability SPDs, based on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) silicon avalanche photodiodes (APD). Based on the high noise-radiation sensitivity of silicon APD, we have developed special shielding structures, multistage cooling technologies, and configurable driver electronics that significantly improved the COTS APD reliability and mitigated the SPD noise-radiation sensitivity. This led to a reduction of the expected in-orbit radiation-induced dark count rate (DCR) from ~219 counts per second (cps) per day to ~0.76 cps/day. During a continuous period of continuous operations in orbit which spanned of 1029 days, the SPD DCR was maintained below 1000 cps, i.e., the actual in-orbit radiation-induced DCR increment rate was ~0.54 cps/day, i.e., two orders of magnitude lower than those evoked by previous technologies, while its photon detection efficiency was > 45%. Our spaceborne, low-noise SPDs established a feasible satellite-based up-link quantum communication that was validated on the quantum experiment science satellite platform. Moreover, our SPDs open new windows of opportunities for space research and applications in deep-space optical communications, single-photon laser ranging, as well as for testing the fundamental principles of physics in space.