All astronauts or cosmonauts were jet pilots;
they train for months to deal with the demands of space missions,
also they learn to fly the spacecraft in simulators and training aircraft.
Astronauts / Cosmonauts
- in the USA, an astronaut is defined as anyone who has flown at an altitude of more than 50 miles above the sea-level, which includes some aircraft test pilots.
- the US Space Shuttle carried three kinds of astronauts; pilots, mission specialists and payload specialists.
- pilot or commander’s job is to be responsible for the mission and control the spacecraft.
- mission specialists are not NASA astronauts, but scientists and other onboard guests.
- both astronauts / cosmonauts on long missions use excercise machines to keep fit.
Astronauts / Cosmonauts Facts
- first person to reach space was Soviet, Yuri Gagarin, in 1961, on board the spacecraft Vostok 1 – he orbited Earth for 108 minutes.
- first woman in space was Soviet Valentina Tereshkova, who completed 48 orbits of Earth in June 1963 – she orbited Earth for nearly 3 days aboard Vostok 6.
- Russian, Sergei Krikalev, has been to space 6 times including on two ISS expeditions and has spent a total of 803 days, 9 hours and 39 minutes (or 2.2 years) in space, more than any other human who has ever lived (as at 2013).
- including Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, 12 men have walked on the Moon, two from each of the six different Apollo missions.
- cosmonaut Alexei Leonov was the first person to carry out an extra-vehicular activity (EVA) or a “spacewalk”, on March 18, 1965, on the Voskhod 2 mission.
- cosmonaut Anatoly Solovyev holds the record for the most EVAs or spacewalks with 16, over a total of 82 hours and 22 minutes (as at 2013).
- astronauts that undertake an EVA or spacewalk usually have to use 70 to 110 tools to complete the tasks or fixes required on a spacecraft.
- Americans Jerry L. Ross and Franklin Chang-Diaz have been into space a record seven times each (as at 2013).
- the farthest an astronaut has travelled from Earth was 249,205 miles, by Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise, aboard Apollo 13.
- throughout spaceflight history 18 astronauts have lost their lives during four tragic space flights. 11 other people have lost their lives training for spaceflight.
- in early space programs, trainee astronauts needed previous military jet test piloting and engineering experience; today, high achieving students of engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics can all make it.
- to become a NASA trainee, you are required to be a US citizen, you must pass a strict physical examination, have 20/20 vision, and good blood pressure.
- once selected, NASA astronauts spend 20 months training in a variety of areas; to simulate spacewalks and test equipment astronauts often have to train underwater in swimming pools here on Earth.
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