Astronaut

An astronaut or cosmonaut is a person trained by a human spaceflight program to command, pilot, or serve as a crew member of a spacecraft. Although generally reserved for professional space travelers, the terms are sometimes applied to anyone who travels into space, including scientists, politicians, journalists, and tourists.[1][2]

Until 2002, astronauts were sponsored and trained exclusively by governments, either by the military or by civilian space agencies. With the suborbital flight of the privately funded SpaceShipOne in 2004, a new category of astronaut was created: the commercial astronaut.

Bruce McCandless II during EVA in 1984
NASA Astronaut Bruce McCandless II using a Manned Maneuvering Unit outside Space Shuttle Challenger on shuttle mission STS-41-B in 1984.

Definition

The criteria for what constitutes human spaceflight vary. The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) Sporting Code for astronautics recognizes only flights that exceed an altitude of 100 kilometers (62 mi).[3] In the United States, professional, military, and commercial astronauts who travel above an altitude of 50 miles (80 km)[4] are awarded astronaut wings.

As of 17 November 2016, a total of 552 people from 36 countries have reached 100 km (62 mi) or more in altitude, of which 549 reached low Earth orbit or beyond.[5] Of these, 24 people have traveled beyond low Earth orbit, either to lunar orbit, the lunar surface, or, in one case, a loop around the Moon.[6] Three of the 24–Jim Lovell, John Young and Eugene Cernan–did so twice.[7] The three current astronauts who have flown without reaching low Earth orbit are spaceplane pilots Joe Walker, Mike Melvill, and Brian Binnie, who participated in suborbital missions.

As of 17 November 2016, under the U.S. definition, 558 people qualify as having reached space, above 50 miles (80 km) altitude. Of eight X-15 pilots who exceeded 50 miles (80 km) in altitude, only one exceeded 100 kilometers (about 62 miles).[5] Space travelers have spent over 41,790 man-days (114.5 man-years) in space, including over 100 astronaut-days of spacewalks.[8][9] As of 2016, the man with the longest cumulative time in space is Gennady Padalka, who has spent 879 days in space.[10] Peggy A. Whitson holds the record for the most time in space by a woman, 377 days.[11]

Terminology

In 1959, when both the United States and Soviet Union were planning, but had yet to launch humans into space, NASA Administrator T. Keith Glennan and his Deputy Administrator, Dr. Hugh Dryden, discussed whether spacecraft crew members should be called astronauts or cosmonauts. Dryden preferred "cosmonaut", on the grounds that flights would occur in the cosmos (near space), while the "astro" prefix suggested flight to the stars. Most NASA Space Task Group members preferred "astronaut", which survived by common usage as the preferred American term.[12] When the Soviet Union launched the first man into space, Yuri Gagarin in 1961, they chose a term which anglicizes to "cosmonaut".

English

In English-speaking nations, a professional space traveler is called an astronaut.[13] The term derives from the Greek words ástron (ἄστρον), meaning "star", and nautes (ναύτης), meaning "sailor". The first known use of the term "astronaut" in the modern sense was by Neil R. Jones in his 1930 short story "The Death's Head Meteor". The word itself had been known earlier; for example, in Percy Greg's 1880 book Across the Zodiac, "astronaut" referred to a spacecraft. In Les Navigateurs de l'Infini (1925) by J.-H. Rosny aîné, the word astronautique (astronautic) was used. The word may have been inspired by "aeronaut", an older term for an air traveler first applied in 1784 to balloonists. An early use of "astronaut" in a non-fiction publication is Eric Frank Russell's poem "The Astronaut", appearing in the November 1934 Bulletin of the British Interplanetary Society.[14]

The first known formal use of the term astronautics in the scientific community was the establishment of the annual International Astronautical Congress in 1950, and the subsequent founding of the International Astronautical Federation the following year.[15]

NASA applies the term astronaut to any crew member aboard NASA spacecraft bound for Earth orbit or beyond. NASA also uses the term as a title for those selected to join its Astronaut Corps.[16] The European Space Agency similarly uses the term astronaut for members of its Astronaut Corps.[17]

Russian

By convention, an astronaut employed by the Russian Federal Space Agency (or its Soviet predecessor) is called a cosmonaut in English texts.[16] The word is an anglicisation of the Russian word kosmonavt (Russian: космонавт, Russian pronunciation: [kəsmɐˈnaft]), one who works in space outside the Earth's atmosphere, a space traveler,[18] which derives from the Greek words kosmos (κόσμος), meaning "universe", and nautes (ναύτης), meaning "sailor". Other countries of the former Eastern Bloc use variations of the Russian word kosmonavt, such as the Polish kosmonauta.

Coinage of the term kosmonavt has been credited to Soviet aeronautics pioneer Mikhail Tikhonravov (1900–1974).[19][20] The first cosmonaut was Soviet Air Force pilot Yuri Gagarin, also the first person in space. Valentina Tereshkova, a Russian factory worker, was the first woman in space, as well as the first civilian among the Soviet cosmonaut or NASA astronaut corps to make a spaceflight. On March 14, 1995, Norman Thagard became the first American to ride to space on board a Russian launch vehicle, and thus became the first "American cosmonaut".

Chinese

"Yǔ háng yuán" (宇航员, "Space-universe navigating personnel") is used for astronauts and cosmonauts in general,[21][22] while "Hángtiān yuán" (航天员, "navigating outer space personnel") is used for Chinese astronauts. Here, "Hángtiān" (航天) is strictly defined as the navigation of outer space within the local star system, i.e. Solar system. The phrase "tài kōng rén" (太空人, "spaceman") is often used in Hong Kong and Taiwan.[23]

The term taikonaut is used by some English-language news media organizations for professional space travelers from China.[24] The word has featured in the Longman and Oxford English dictionaries, the latter of which describes it as "a hybrid of the Chinese term taikong (space) and the Greek naut (sailor)"; the term became more common in 2003 when China sent its first astronaut Yang Liwei into space aboard the Shenzhou 5 spacecraft.[25] This is the term used by Xinhua News Agency in the English version of the Chinese People's Daily since the advent of the Chinese space program.[26] The origin of the term is unclear; as early as May 1998, Chiew Lee Yih (趙裡昱) from Malaysia, used it in newsgroups.[27][28]

Other terms

With the rise of space tourism, NASA and the Russian Federal Space Agency agreed to use the term "spaceflight participant" to distinguish those space travelers from professional astronauts on missions coordinated by those two agencies.

While no nation other than the Russian Federation (and previously the former Soviet Union), the United States, and China have launched a manned spacecraft, several other nations have sent people into space in cooperation with one of these countries. Inspired partly by these missions, other synonyms for astronaut have entered occasional English usage. For example, the term spationaut (French spelling: spationaute) is sometimes used to describe French space travelers, from the Latin word spatium for "space", the Malay term angkasawan was used to describe participants in the Angkasawan program, and the Indian Space Research Organisation hope to launch a spacecraft in 2022 that would carry vyomanauts, coined from the Sanskrit word for space. In Finland, the NASA astronaut Timothy Kopra, a Finnish American, has sometimes been referred to as sisunautti, from the Finnish word sisu.[29]

Space travel milestones

Gagarin in Sweden
Yuri Gagarin, first human in space (1961)
RIAN archive 612748 Valentina Tereshkova
Valentina Tereshkova, first woman in space (1963)
Neil Armstrong pose
Neil Armstrong, first human to walk on the Moon (1969)
Sally Ride in 1984
Dr. Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut (1980s)
Yang Liwei
Yang Liwei, first person sent into space by China (2003)

The first human in space was Soviet Yuri Gagarin, who was launched on April 12, 1961, aboard Vostok 1 and orbited around the Earth for 108 minutes. The first woman in space was Soviet Valentina Tereshkova, who launched on June 16, 1963, aboard Vostok 6 and orbited Earth for almost three days.

Alan Shepard became the first American and second person in space on May 5, 1961, on a 15-minute sub-orbital flight. The first American to orbit the Earth was John Glenn, aboard Friendship 7 on February 20, 1962. The first American woman in space was Sally Ride, during Space Shuttle Challenger's mission STS-7, on June 18, 1983.[30] In 1992 Mae Jemison became the first African American woman to travel in space aboard STS-47.

Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov was the first person to conduct an extravehicular activity (EVA), (commonly called a "spacewalk"), on March 18, 1965, on the Soviet Union's Voskhod 2 mission. This was followed two and a half months later by astronaut Ed White who made the first American EVA on NASA's Gemini 4 mission.[31]

The first manned mission to orbit the Moon, Apollo 8, included American William Anders who was born in Hong Kong, making him the first Asian-born astronaut in 1968.

The Soviet Union, through its Intercosmos program, allowed people from other "socialist" (i.e. Warsaw Pact and other Soviet-allied) countries to fly on its missions, with the notable exception of France participating in Soyuz TM-7. An example is Czechoslovak Vladimír Remek, the first cosmonaut from a country other than the Soviet Union or the United States, who flew to space in 1978 on a Soyuz-U rocket.[32] Rakesh Sharma became the first Indian citizen to travel to space. He was launched aboard Soyuz T-11, on 2 April 1984.

On July 23, 1980, Pham Tuan of Vietnam became the first Asian in space when he flew aboard Soyuz 37.[33] Also in 1980, Cuban Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez became the first person of Hispanic and black African descent to fly in space, and in 1983, Guion Bluford became the first African American to fly into space. In April 1985, Taylor Wang became the first ethnic Chinese person in space.[34][35] The first person born in Africa to fly in space was Patrick Baudry (France), in 1985.[36][37] In 1985, Saudi Arabian Prince Sultan Bin Salman Bin AbdulAziz Al-Saud became the first Arab Muslim astronaut in space.[38] In 1988, Abdul Ahad Mohmand became the first Afghan to reach space, spending nine days aboard the Mir space station.[39]

With the increase of seats on the Space Shuttle, the U.S. began taking international astronauts. In 1983, Ulf Merbold of West Germany became the first non-US citizen to fly in a US spacecraft. In 1984, Marc Garneau became the first of 8 Canadian astronauts to fly in space (through 2010).[40] In 1985, Rodolfo Neri Vela became the first Mexican-born person in space.[41] In 1991, Helen Sharman became the first Briton to fly in space.[42] In 2002, Mark Shuttleworth became the first citizen of an African country to fly in space, as a paying spaceflight participant.[43] In 2003, Ilan Ramon became the first Israeli to fly in space, although he died during a re-entry accident.

On October 15, 2003, Yang Liwei became China's first astronaut on the Shenzhou 5 spacecraft.

Age milestones

The youngest person to fly in space is Gherman Titov, who was 25 years old when he flew Vostok 2. (Titov was also the first person to suffer space sickness).[44][45] The oldest person who has flown in space is John Glenn, who was 77 when he flew on STS-95.[46]

Duration and distance milestones

438 days is the longest time spent in space, by Russian Valeri Polyakov.[8] As of 2006, the most spaceflights by an individual astronaut is seven, a record held by both Jerry L. Ross and Franklin Chang-Diaz. The farthest distance from Earth an astronaut has traveled was 401,056 km (249,205 mi), when Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise went around the Moon during the Apollo 13 emergency.[8]

Civilian and non-government milestones

The first civilian in space was Valentina Tereshkova[47] aboard Vostok 6 (she also became the first woman in space on that mission). Tereshkova was only honorarily inducted into the USSR's Air Force, which did not accept female pilots at that time. A month later, Joseph Albert Walker became the first American civilian in space when his X-15 Flight 90 crossed the 100 kilometers (54 nautical miles) line, qualifying him by the international definition of spaceflight.[48][49] Walker had joined the US Army Air Force but was not a member during his flight. The first people in space who had never been a member of any country's armed forces were both Konstantin Feoktistov and Boris Yegorov aboard Voskhod 1.

The first non-governmental space traveler was Byron K. Lichtenberg, a researcher from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who flew on STS-9 in 1983.[50] In December 1990, Toyohiro Akiyama became the first paying space traveler as a reporter for Tokyo Broadcasting System, a visit to Mir as part of an estimated $12 million (USD) deal with a Japanese TV station, although at the time, the term used to refer to Akiyama was "Research Cosmonaut".[51][52][53] Akiyama suffered severe space sickness during his mission, which affected his productivity.[52]

The first self-funded space tourist was Dennis Tito on board the Russian spacecraft Soyuz TM-3 on April 28, 2001.

Self-funded travelers

The first person to fly on an entirely privately funded mission was Mike Melvill, piloting SpaceShipOne flight 15P on a suborbital journey, although he was a test pilot employed by Scaled Composites and not an actual paying space tourist.[54][55] Seven others have paid the Russian Space Agency to fly into space:

  1. Dennis Tito (American): April 28 – May 6, 2001 (ISS)
  2. Mark Shuttleworth (South African): April 25 – May 5, 2002 (ISS)
  3. Gregory Olsen (American): October 1–11, 2005 (ISS)
  4. Anousheh Ansari (Iranian / American): September 18–29, 2006 (ISS)
  5. Charles Simonyi (Hungarian / American): April 7–21, 2007 (ISS), March 26 – April 8, 2009 (ISS)
  6. Richard Garriott (British / American): October 12–24, 2008 (ISS)
  7. Guy Laliberté (Canadian): September 30, 2009 – October 11, 2009 (ISS)

Training

Gemini 5 Elliot See water egress training
Elliot See during water egress training with NASA (1965)

The first NASA astronauts were selected for training in 1959.[56] Early in the space program, military jet test piloting and engineering training were often cited as prerequisites for selection as an astronaut at NASA, although neither John Glenn nor Scott Carpenter (of the Mercury Seven) had any university degree, in engineering or any other discipline at the time of their selection. Selection was initially limited to military pilots.[57][58] The earliest astronauts for both America and the USSR tended to be jet fighter pilots, and were often test pilots.

Once selected, NASA astronauts go through twenty months of training in a variety of areas, including training for extravehicular activity in a facility such as NASA's Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory.[1][57] Astronauts-in-training (astronaut candidates) may also experience short periods of weightlessness (microgravity) in an aircraft called the "Vomit Comet," the nickname given to a pair of modified KC-135s (retired in 2000 and 2004, respectively, and replaced in 2005 with a C-9) which perform parabolic flights.[56] Astronauts are also required to accumulate a number of flight hours in high-performance jet aircraft. This is mostly done in T-38 jet aircraft out of Ellington Field, due to its proximity to the Johnson Space Center. Ellington Field is also where the Shuttle Training Aircraft is maintained and developed, although most flights of the aircraft are conducted from Edwards Air Force Base.

Astronauts is training must learn how to control and fly the Space Shuttle and, it is vital that they are familiar with the International Space Station so they know what they must do when they get there.[59]

NASA candidacy requirements

  • Be citizens of the United States.[56][60]
  • Pass a strict physical examination, and have a near and distant visual acuity correctable to 20/20 (6/6). Blood pressure, while sitting, must be no greater than 140 over 90. There are currently no age restrictions.[61]

Commander and Pilot

  • A bachelor's degree in engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics is required.
  • At least 1,000 hours' flying time as pilot-in-command in jet aircraft. Experience as a test pilot is desirable.
  • Height must be 5 ft 2 in to 6 ft 2 in (1.58 m to 1.88 m).
  • Distant visual acuity must be correctable to 20/20 in each eye.
  • The refractive surgical procedures of the eye, PRK (Photorefractive keratectomy) and LASIK, are now allowed, providing at least 1 year has passed since the date of the procedure with no permanent adverse after effects. For those applicants under final consideration, an operative report on the surgical procedure will be requested.

Mission Specialist

  • A bachelor's degree in engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics, as well as at least three years of related professional experience (graduate work or studies) and an advanced degree, such as a master's degree (one to three years) or a doctoral degree (three years or more).
  • Applicant's height must be between 4 ft 10.5 in and 6 ft 4 in (1.49 m and 1.93 m).

Mission Specialist Educator

  • Applicants must have a bachelor's degree with teaching experience, including work at the kindergarten through twelfth grade level. An advanced degree, such as a master's degree or a doctoral degree, is not required, but is strongly desired.[62]

Mission Specialist Educators, or "Educator Astronauts", were first selected in 2004, and as of 2007, there are three NASA Educator astronauts: Joseph M. Acaba, Richard R. Arnold, and Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger.[63][64] Barbara Morgan, selected as back-up teacher to Christa McAuliffe in 1985, is considered to be the first Educator astronaut by the media, but she trained as a mission specialist.[65] The Educator Astronaut program is a successor to the Teacher in Space program from the 1980s.[66][67]

Health risks of space travel

Padalka Fincke ISS ultrasound
Gennady Padalka performing ultrasound on Michael Fincke during ISS Expedition 9.

Astronauts are susceptible to a variety of health risks including decompression sickness, barotrauma, immunodeficiencies, loss of bone and muscle, loss of eyesight, orthostatic intolerance, sleep disturbances, and radiation injury.[68][69][70][71][72][73][74][75][76][77] A variety of large scale medical studies are being conducted in space via the National Space and Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) to address these issues. Prominent among these is the Advanced Diagnostic Ultrasound in Microgravity Study in which astronauts (including former ISS commanders Leroy Chiao and Gennady Padalka) perform ultrasound scans under the guidance of remote experts to diagnose and potentially treat hundreds of medical conditions in space. This study's techniques are now being applied to cover professional and Olympic sports injuries as well as ultrasound performed by non-expert operators in medical and high school students. It is anticipated that remote guided ultrasound will have application on Earth in emergency and rural care situations, where access to a trained physician is often rare.[78][79][80]

A 2006 Space Shuttle experiment found that Salmonella typhimurium, a bacterium that can cause food poisoning, became more virulent when cultivated in space.[81] More recently, in 2017, bacteria were found to be more resistant to antibiotics and to thrive in the near-weightlessness of space.[82] Microorganisms have been observed to survive the vacuum of outer space.[83][84]

On December 31, 2012, a NASA-supported study reported that manned spaceflight may harm the brain and accelerate the onset of Alzheimer's disease.[85][86][87]

In October 2015, the NASA Office of Inspector General issued a health hazards report related to space exploration, including a human mission to Mars.[88][89]

Over the last decade, flight surgeons and scientists at NASA have seen a pattern of vision problems in astronauts on long-duration space missions. The syndrome, known as visual impairment intracranial pressure (VIIP), has been reported in nearly two-thirds of space explorers after long periods spent aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

On November 2, 2017, scientists reported that significant changes in the position and structure of the brain have been found in astronauts who have taken trips in space, based on MRI studies. Astronauts who took longer space trips were associated with greater brain changes.[90][91]

Being in space can be physiologically deconditioning on the body. It can affect the otolith organs and adaptive capabilities of the central nervous system. Zero gravity and cosmic rays can cause many implications for astronauts.[92]

In October 2018, NASA-funded researchers found that lengthy journeys into outer space, including travel to the planet Mars, may substantially damage the gastrointestinal tissues of astronauts. The studies support earlier work that found such journeys could significantly damage the brains of astronauts, and age them prematurely.[93]

Researchers in 2018 reported, after detecting the presence on the International Space Station (ISS) of five Enterobacter bugandensis bacterial strains, none pathogenic to humans, that microorganisms on ISS should be carefully monitored to continue assuring a medically healthy environment for astronauts.[94][95]

Food and drink

An astronaut on the International Space Station requires about 0.83 kilograms (1.83 pounds) weight of food inclusive of food packaging per meal each day. (The packaging for each meal weighs around 0.12 kilograms - 0.27 pounds) Longer-duration missions require more food.

Shuttle astronauts worked with nutritionists to select menus that appeal to their individual tastes. Five months before flight, menus are selected and analyzed for nutritional content by the shuttle dietician. Foods are tested to see how they will react in a reduced gravity environment. Caloric requirements are determined using a basal energy expenditure (BEE) formula. On Earth, the average American uses about 35 gallons (132 liters) of water every day. On board the ISS astronauts limit water use to only about three gallons (11 liters) per day.[96]

Insignia

In Russia, cosmonauts are awarded Pilot-Cosmonaut of the Russian Federation upon completion of their missions, often accompanied with the award of Hero of the Russian Federation. This follows the practice established in the USSR where cosmonauts were usually awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union.

At NASA, those who complete astronaut candidate training receive a silver lapel pin. Once they have flown in space, they receive a gold pin. U.S. astronauts who also have active-duty military status receive a special qualification badge, known as the Astronaut Badge, after participation on a spaceflight. The United States Air Force also presents an Astronaut Badge to its pilots who exceed 50 miles (80 km) in altitude.

Amf space mirror
Space Mirror Memorial

Deaths

Eighteen astronauts (fourteen men and four women) have lost their lives during four space flights. By nationality, thirteen were American (including one born in India), four were Russian (Soviet Union), and one was Israeli.

Eleven people (all men) have lost their lives training for spaceflight: eight Americans and three Russians. Six of these were in crashes of training jet aircraft, one drowned during water recovery training, and four were due to fires in pure oxygen environments.

The Space Mirror Memorial, which stands on the grounds of the John F. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, commemorates the lives of the men and women who have died during spaceflight and during training in the space programs of the United States. In addition to twenty NASA career astronauts, the memorial includes the names of a U.S. Air Force X-15 test pilot, a U.S. Air Force officer who died while training for a then-classified military space program, and a civilian spaceflight participant.

See also

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External links

Ancient Aliens

Ancient Aliens is an American television series that premiered on April 20, 2010, on the History channel. Produced by Prometheus Entertainment in a documentary style, the program presents hypotheses of ancient astronauts and proposes that historical texts, archaeology, and legends contain evidence of past human-extraterrestrial contact. The show has been widely criticized by historians, cosmologists and other scientific circles for presenting and promoting pseudoscience and pseudohistory.

The series started with a TV special of the same name that aired on March 8, 2009, on the History channel. Seasons 1–3 aired on the same channel until 2011. From season 4 to the middle of season 7, the series aired on H2. On April 10, 2015, episode premieres returned to History.

Season 13 premiered on April 27, 2018, with a two-hour special.

Ancient astronauts

"Ancient astronauts" (or "ancient aliens") refers to the pseudoscientific idea that intelligent extraterrestrial beings visited Earth and made contact with humans in antiquity and prehistoric times. Proponents suggest that this contact influenced the development of modern cultures, technologies, and religions, and even human biology. A common position is that deities from most, if not all, religions are extraterrestrial in origin, and that advanced technologies brought to Earth by ancient astronauts were interpreted as evidence of divine status by early humans.The idea that ancient astronauts existed is not taken seriously by most academics, and has received no credible attention in peer reviewed studies. Furthermore, it is argued that some ancient astronaut proponents such as Erich von Däniken have fabricated evidence and distorted the facts of archeological research.Well-known proponents in the latter half of the 20th century who have written numerous books or appear regularly in mass media include von Däniken, Zecharia Sitchin, Robert K. G. Temple, Giorgio A. Tsoukalos and David Hatcher Childress.

Astronaut ranks and positions

Astronauts hold a variety of ranks and positions, and each of these roles carries responsibilities that are essential to the operation of a spacecraft. A spacecraft's cockpit, filled with sophisticated equipment, requires skills differing from those used to manage the scientific equipment on board, and so on.

Buzz Aldrin

Buzz Aldrin (; born Edwin Eugene Aldrin Jr.; January 20, 1930) is an American engineer, former astronaut, and fighter pilot. As lunar module pilot on the Apollo 11 mission, he and mission commander Neil Armstrong were the first two humans to land on the Moon.

Born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, Aldrin graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1951, with a degree in mechanical engineering. He was commissioned into the United States Air Force, and served as a jet fighter pilot during the Korean War. He flew 66 combat missions and shot down two MiG-15 aircraft.

After earning a Sc.D. degree in astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Aldrin was selected as a member of NASA's Astronaut Group 3, making him the first astronaut with a doctoral degree. His doctoral thesis was Line-of-Sight Guidance Techniques for Manned Orbital Rendezvous, earning him the nickname "Dr. Rendezvous" from fellow astronauts. His first space flight was in 1966 on Gemini 12 during which he spent over five hours on extravehicular activity (EVA) outside the spacecraft. Three years later, Aldrin set foot on the Moon at 03:15:16 on July 21, 1969 (UTC), nine minutes after Armstrong first touched the surface, while Command Module Pilot Michael Collins remained in lunar orbit. A Presbyterian elder, Aldrin became the first person to hold a religious ceremony on the Moon when he privately took communion.

Upon leaving NASA in 1971, he became Commandant of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School. He retired from the Air Force in 1972, after 21 years of service. His autobiographies Return to Earth, (1973) and Magnificent Desolation (2009), recount his struggles with clinical depression and alcoholism in the years after leaving NASA. He continued to advocate for space exploration, particularly a manned mission to Mars, and developed the Aldrin cycler, a special spacecraft trajectory that makes travel to Mars possible using less time and propellant. He has been accorded numerous honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969, and is listed in several Halls of Fame, and has plaques on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Ed White (astronaut)

Edward Higgins White II (November 14, 1930 – January 27, 1967), (Lt Col, USAF), was an American aeronautical engineer, U.S. Air Force officer, test pilot, and NASA astronaut. On June 3, 1965, he became the first American to walk in space. White died along with astronauts Virgil "Gus" Grissom and Roger B. Chaffee during prelaunch testing for the first manned Apollo mission at Cape Canaveral. He was awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal for his flight in Gemini 4 and was then awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor posthumously.

Extravehicular activity

Extravehicular activity (EVA) is any activity done by an astronaut or cosmonaut outside a spacecraft beyond the Earth's appreciable atmosphere. The term most commonly applies to a spacewalk made outside a craft orbiting Earth (such as the International Space Station), but also has applied to lunar surface exploration (commonly known as moonwalks) performed by six pairs of American astronauts in the Apollo program from 1969 to 1972. On each of the last three of these missions, astronauts also performed deep-space EVAs on the return to Earth, to retrieve film canisters from the outside of the spacecraft. Astronauts also used EVA in 1973 to repair launch damage to Skylab, the United States' first space station.

A "Stand-up" EVA (SEVA) is when an astronaut does not fully leave a spacecraft, but is completely reliant on the spacesuit for environmental support. Its name derives from the astronaut "standing up" in the open hatch, usually to record or assist a spacewalking astronaut.

EVAs may be either tethered (the astronaut is connected to the spacecraft; oxygen and electrical power can be supplied through an umbilical cable; no propulsion is needed to return to the spacecraft), or untethered. Untethered spacewalks were only performed on three missions in 1984 using the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU), and on a flight test in 1994 of the Simplified Aid For EVA Rescue (SAFER), a safety device worn on tethered U.S. EVAs.

The Soviet Union/Russia, the United States, and China have conducted EVAs.

John Glenn

Colonel John Herschel Glenn Jr. (July 18, 1921 – December 8, 2016) was a United States Marine Corps aviator, engineer, astronaut, businessman, and politician. He was the first American to orbit the Earth, circling it three times in 1962. Following his retirement from NASA, he served from 1974 to 1999 as a Democratic United States Senator from Ohio.

Before joining NASA, Glenn was a distinguished fighter pilot in World War II, China and Korea. He shot down three MiG-15s, and was awarded six Distinguished Flying Crosses and eighteen Air Medals. In 1957, he made the first supersonic transcontinental flight across the United States. His on-board camera took the first continuous, panoramic photograph of the United States.

He was one of the Mercury Seven, military test pilots selected in 1959 by NASA as the nation's first astronauts. On February 20, 1962, Glenn flew the Friendship 7 mission, becoming the first American to orbit the Earth, and the fifth person and third American in space. He received the NASA Distinguished Service Medal in 1962 and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 1978, was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 1990, and was the last surviving member of the Mercury Seven.

Glenn resigned from NASA in January 1964. He planned to run for a U.S. Senate seat from Ohio, but an injury in February 1964 forced his withdrawal. He retired from the Marine Corps the following year. He lost a close primary election in 1970. A member of the Democratic Party, Glenn first won election to the Senate in 1974 and served for 24 years until January 1999. In 1998, while still a sitting Senator, Glenn flew on the Discovery space shuttle's STS-95 mission, and became the oldest person to fly in space and the only person to fly in both the Mercury and Space Shuttle programs. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012. He died at the age of 95 in 2016.

List of Apollo astronauts

Thirty-two astronauts were assigned to fly in the Apollo manned lunar landing program. Twenty-four of them, flying on nine different missions, reached an orbit around the Moon. (Of the other manned missions, Apollo 1 did not launch and Apollo 7 and Apollo 9 were low Earth orbit spacecraft testing missions). In addition, nine astronauts flew Apollo spacecraft in the Apollo Applications Programs Skylab and Apollo–Soyuz Test Project.

Twelve of these astronauts walked on the Moon's surface, and six of those drove Lunar Roving Vehicles on the Moon. While three astronauts flew to the Moon twice, of which two landed, none landed on the Moon more than once. The nine Apollo missions to the Moon occurred between December 1968 and December 1972.

Apart from these twenty-four men who visited the Moon, no human being has gone beyond low Earth orbit. They have, therefore, been farther from the Earth than anyone else. They are also the only people to have directly viewed the far side of the Moon. The twelve who walked on the Moon are the only people ever to have set foot on an astronomical object other than the Earth.

Of the twenty-four astronauts who flew to the Moon, two went on to command a Skylab mission, one commanded Apollo–Soyuz, one flew as commander for Approach and Landing Tests of the Space Shuttle, and two went on to command orbital Space Shuttle missions. A total of twenty-four NASA astronauts from the Apollo era flew on the Space Shuttle.

List of astronauts by year of selection

This is a list of astronauts by year of selection: people selected to train for a human spaceflight program to command, pilot, or serve as a crew member of a spacecraft. Until recently, astronauts were sponsored and trained exclusively by governments, either by the military or by civilian space agencies. However, with the advent of suborbital flight starting with privately funded SpaceShipOne in 2004, a new category of astronaut was created: the commercial astronaut.

While the term astronaut is sometimes applied to anyone who trains for travels into space—including scientists, politicians, journalists, and tourists—this article lists only professional astronauts, those who have been selected to train as a profession. This includes national space programs and private industry programs which train and/or hire their own professional astronauts.

More than 500 people have trained as astronauts. A list of everyone who has flown in space can be found at List of space travelers by name.

List of spaceflight-related accidents and incidents

This article lists verifiable spaceflight-related accidents and incidents resulting in fatality or near-fatality during flight or training for manned space missions, and testing, assembly, preparation or flight of manned and unmanned spacecraft. Not included are accidents or incidents associated with intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests, unmanned space flights not resulting in fatality or serious injury, or Soviet or German rocket-powered aircraft projects of World War II. Also not included are alleged unreported Soviet space accidents, which are considered fringe theories by a majority of historians.

As of 2018, there have been 18 astronaut and cosmonaut fatalities during spaceflight. Astronauts have also died while training for space missions, such as the Apollo 1 launch pad fire which killed an entire crew of three. There have also been some non-astronaut fatalities during spaceflight-related activities.

Mae Jemison

Mae Carol Jemison (born October 17, 1956) is an American engineer, physician and NASA astronaut. She became the first African American woman to travel in space when she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on September 12, 1992. After medical school and a brief general practice, Jemison served in the Peace Corps from 1985 until 1987, when she was selected by NASA to join the astronaut corps. She resigned from NASA in 1993 to found a company researching the application of technology to daily life. She has appeared on television several times, including as an actress in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. She is a dancer and holds nine honorary doctorates in science, engineering, letters, and the humanities. She is the current principal of the 100 Year Starship organization.

Mercury Seven

The Mercury Seven were the group of seven astronauts for Project Mercury announced by NASA on April 9, 1959. They are also referred to as the Original Seven and Astronaut Group 1. They piloted all the manned spaceflights of the Mercury program from May 1961 to May 1963. These seven original American astronauts were Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, and Deke Slayton.

Members of the group flew on all of the NASA crewed orbital programs of the 20th century — Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and the Space Shuttle. Gus Grissom died in 1967, in the Apollo 1 fire; the others all survived past retirement from service. Alan Shepard became the first American in space in 1961, and walked on the Moon on Apollo 14 in 1971. John Glenn became the first American in orbit in 1962, and went on to become a U.S. senator. He flew on the Shuttle in 1998 to become the oldest person to fly in space. He was the last living member of the Mercury Seven when he died in 2016 at the age of 95.

Michael Collins (astronaut)

Michael Collins (born October 31, 1930) (major general, USAF) is an American former astronaut and test pilot. Selected as part of the third group of fourteen astronauts in 1963, he flew into space twice. His first spaceflight was on Gemini 10, in which he and Command Pilot John Young performed orbital rendezvous with two different spacecraft and undertook two extravehicular activities (EVAs, also known as spacewalks). His second spaceflight was as the Command Module Pilot for Apollo 11. While he stayed in orbit around the Moon, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left in the lunar module to make the first manned landing on its surface. He is one of 24 people to have flown to the Moon. Collins was the seventeenth American in space, and the fourth person, and third American, to perform an EVA; and the first person to have performed more than one EVA.

Prior to becoming an astronaut, he graduated from the United States Military Academy, and from there he joined the United States Air Force and flew F-86 Sabre fighters at Chambley-Bussieres Air Base. He was accepted to the U.S. Air Force Experimental Flight Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base in 1960. He unsuccessfully applied for the second astronaut group, but was accepted for the third.

After retiring from NASA in 1970, Collins took a job in the Department of State as Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs. A year later, he became the director of the National Air and Space Museum and held this position until 1978, when he stepped down to become undersecretary of the Smithsonian Institution. In 1980, he took a job as vice president of LTV Aerospace. Collins resigned in 1985 to start his own consulting firm.

NASA Astronaut Corps

The NASA Astronaut Corps is a unit of the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) that selects, trains, and provides astronauts as crew members for U.S. and international space missions. It is based at Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

NASA Astronaut Group 2

NASA's Astronaut Group 2, also known as The New Nine, was the second group of astronauts selected by NASA and announced on September 17, 1962. The group was required to augment the original Mercury 7 with the announcement of the Gemini program and leading to the Apollo program. While the Original 7 had been selected to accomplish the simpler task of orbital flight, the new challenges of rendezvous and lunar landing led to the selection of candidates with advanced engineering degrees (for four of the New Nine) as well as test pilot experience. Two of this group (Lovell and Conrad) had been candidates for the original 7, but were not selected then for medical reasons. In addition, Group 2 became the first group with civilian test pilots in the group; See flew for General Electric, while Armstrong flew the X-15 research plane for NASA.

Seven of the nine would receive the Congressional Space Medal of Honor for their service, valor, and sacrifice.

Ed White, killed on Apollo 1.

Frank Borman, for commanding the first manned mission to the Moon (Apollo 8).

Neil Armstrong, for commanding the first lunar landing (Apollo 11).

Jim Lovell, for commanding Apollo 13.

Pete Conrad, for commanding Skylab 2 and saving the damaged station.

Thomas P. Stafford, for commanding the international Cold War Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.

John Young, for commanding the first Space Shuttle mission, STS-1, in Space Shuttle Columbia.

Naval Postgraduate School

The Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) is a public graduate school operated by the United States Navy and located in Monterey, California. It grants master's degrees, doctoral degrees, and certificates. Established in 1909, the school also offers research fellowship opportunities at the postdoctoral level through the National Academies' National Research Council research associateship program.

Neil Armstrong

Neil Alden Armstrong (August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012) was an American astronaut and aeronautical engineer who was the first person to walk on the Moon. He was also a naval aviator, test pilot, and university professor.

A graduate of Purdue University, Armstrong studied aeronautical engineering with his college tuition paid for by the U.S. Navy under the Holloway Plan. He became a midshipman in 1949, and a naval aviator the following year. He saw action in the Korean War, flying the Grumman F9F Panther from the aircraft carrier USS Essex. In September 1951, he was hit by anti-aircraft fire while making a low bombing run, and was forced to bail out. After the war, he completed his bachelor's degree at Purdue and became a test pilot at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) High-Speed Flight Station at Edwards Air Force Base in California. He was the project pilot on Century Series fighters and flew the North American X-15 seven times. He was also a participant in the U.S. Air Force's Man in Space Soonest and X-20 Dyna-Soar human spaceflight programs.

Armstrong joined the NASA Astronaut Corps in the second group, which was selected in 1962. He made his first spaceflight as commander of Gemini 8 in March 1966, becoming NASA's first civilian astronaut to fly in space. During this mission with pilot David Scott, he performed the first docking of two spacecraft; the mission was aborted after Armstrong used some of his reentry control fuel to remove a dangerous spin caused by a stuck thruster. During training for Armstrong's second and last spaceflight as commander of Apollo 11, he had to eject from the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle moments before a crash.

In July 1969, Armstrong and Apollo 11 Lunar Module pilot Buzz Aldrin performed the first manned Moon landing, and spent two and a half hours outside the spacecraft while Michael Collins remained in lunar orbit in the command and service module. When Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface, he famously said: "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind." Along with Collins and Aldrin, Armstrong was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Richard Nixon. President Jimmy Carter presented Armstrong with the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 1978, and Armstrong and his former crewmates received a Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.

After he resigned from NASA in 1971, Armstrong taught in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati until 1979. He served on the Apollo 13 accident investigation, and on the Rogers Commission, which investigated the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. He acted as a spokesman for several businesses, and appeared in advertising for the automotive brand Chrysler starting in January 1979.

Sunita Williams

Sunita Pandya Lyn Williams (born September 19, 1965) is an American astronaut and United States Navy officer of Indo-Slovenian descent. She formerly held the records for total spacewalks by a woman (seven) and most spacewalk time for a woman (50 hours, 40 minutes). Williams was assigned to the International Space Station as a member of Expedition 14 and Expedition 15. In 2012, she served as a flight engineer on Expedition 32 and then commander of Expedition 33.

Tracy Morgan

Tracy Jamel Morgan (born November 10, 1968) is an American actor and comedian best known for his seven seasons as a cast member on Saturday Night Live (1996–2003) and 30 Rock (2006–2013). He was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2009 for his work on 30 Rock. He has appeared in numerous films as an actor and voice actor.

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