25 Amazing Facts About Astronauts: Everything You Wanted to Know About Space Travel15th Jul 2022
Space has always been mysterious and alluring. Which boy did not dream of becoming an astronaut and flying on spaceships? Thousands of people strive to fulfill this childhood dream, but only a few succeed. The astronaut’s profession requires a huge amount of knowledge, incredible courage and perseverance, and not everyone can go through this difficult, dangerous path to the end. We have collected 25 fascinating facts about astronauts that will help you unravel the mystery of space travel.
10 Astronaut facts for kids
In this section, we’ve collected some cognitive facts about astronauts that will be interesting for kids and may help them to find their calling.
Who are astronauts and why are they called that?
Astronauts are people who receive special training for space flight, exploration, and spacewalks. The word “astronaut” comes from the Greek words Astron (star) and nautes (sailor) and is mainly used in NASA’s terminology and a number of space agencies in Western countries. In Russia, space pilots are called “cosmonaut” (a sailor in the universe), in Germany, they are called Raumfahrer (space driver), and in China, they are called “taikonaut” (from Chinese (tàikōng rén) “space man”).
Who was the first astronaut in space?
The first space flight was made by a citizen of the USSR Yuri Gagarin. This legendary event took place on 12th April 1961, so since then, the whole world has been celebrating Cosmonautics Day on this date. Gagarin successfully circled the Earth aboard the Vostok-1 spacecraft and landed on his country’s territory. The flight lasted 108 minutes and was unpiloted (the ship was completely controlled from Earth).
Who was the first female astronaut in space?
When young Hillary Clinton wrote a letter to NASA asking how she could become an astronaut, she was told that they did not accept girls. But then the Soviet Union proved to the whole world that women are not the weaker sex. On 16th June 1963, an unknown junior lieutenant of the Soviet Air Force Valentina Tereshkova went on a space flight. Since then, 69 women have flown to space.
First astronauts on the Moon
The first and second people to walk on the Moon were NASA Apollo mission astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. This happened on 20th July 1969. Within the next three years, the Americans landed on the Moon five more times, each time by crews of two. No astronaut has flown to the Moon since 1972. Mars and other planets are still inaccessible to terrestrial technologies.
How to become an astronaut
So how to become an astronaut? First, you need to pass the first screening. In 1978, more than 8,000 people applied to NASA, and in 2017 there were already 18,000 applicants. The selection process takes 18 months, and only 8-14 people get the cherished call. Military pilots have the highest odds, as they already have some training. But even if you make the lucky list, you still enter as an astronaut candidate; only after two years of basic training, may you earn the right to be considered an astronaut.
This is one of the most unflattering facts about astronauts’ training. All NASA astronaut recruits are trained on a specially equipped KC-135 aircraft, which, by flying along a parabolic trajectory, can simulate weightlessness at intervals of 20-25 seconds. The test puts a strain on the body that causes nausea up to vomiting. Because of this, the plane was nicknamed the “vomit comet.” In 1995, for the filming of Apollo 13, director Ron Howard rented the Vomit Comet from NASA for six months to make the zero-gravity scenes look as realistic as possible. One can only imagine how difficult it was for Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, and Kevin Bacon, who played the roles of the Apollo 13 astronauts.
Spacesuit is a complex system
Now there are some facts about astronauts’ suits. Space is different from Earth; there is no air, it is cold, and the pressure is different, so an astronaut needs a protective spacesuit. This is a complex and expensive life support system, consisting of 14 protective layers of fabric, gloves, boots, a helmet with special sun-reflective glass, a display, a control module, etc. For example, the first NASA spacesuits for lunar missions weighed 130 kg, but due to the weaker lunar gravity, their weight on the Moon was only 22 kg, and astronauts could wear them without much difficulty.
How to survive in outer space
When astronauts go out into outer space, they use special cables to attach themselves to the ship and return along these cables. But if the cable suddenly breaks, the suits have a backup rescue system. This is a small jetpack that is controlled by a joystick that allows manoeuvres for the return.
Snoopy in Space
When NASA was working on the security program, they approached artist Charles Schultz for permission to use his character Snoopy for an award. This is how the Silver Snoopy came to life — a silver badge worn on the lapel of an astronaut’s suit for exemplary safety achievements. Annually, the Silver Snoopy is granted to less than 1% of the space program participants, making it a special honor to receive this award.
Why are we taller in space?
In space, Earth’s gravity does not affect us, so our spine straightens, and we become 3-5 cm taller. After returning to Earth, growth is restored after a few months. Want to grow up in a few hours? Go to space)
8 Fun facts about astronauts
Astronauts are subjected to severe tests not only during training but also when they go into space and even when they return from there. However, some of the facts about astronauts’ life in space are pretty fun.
Believe it or not, gases were a major safety issue in the early stages of manned space programs. Scientists feared that methane, as a combustible gas, could explode. Since then, manned spacecraft, stations, and spacesuits have been equipped with special filters to clear the gases.
Healthy sleep — safe sleep
Sleep in space has little in common with earthly sleep. In microgravity, astronauts are constantly moving, so to avoid hitting something and getting injured while sleeping, they use sleeping bags that are attached to the wall either vertically (facing the center of the cabin) or horizontally (facing the “ceiling”). The astronaut gets into the bag, fastens the zipper, fixes his head and body with special textile straps, and sleeps.
And here’s another one of the important facts about astronauts in space. In weightlessness, no one snores, even if they do so very loudly on Earth. So, sleeping on a spaceship may not be very comfortable, but at least you will sleep in silence.
Toilet in weightlessness
In zero gravity, astronauts experience the urge to go to the toilet in a very different way. If on Earth the bladder signals when it is one-third full, in space, it only happens when the bladder is nearly full. So, to avoid problems with the genitourinary system, astronauts are taught to go to the toilet every two hours. They use a special funnel with a hose that is connected to the toilet. The device can be used both when standing and sitting.
The sewerage system of a spacecraft or station separates liquid waste from solid one. The solid waste is pressed and stored on board until the vehicle’s return to Earth, while the liquid waste is thrown into space for now. But NASA is looking for a way to recycle the waste.
Since water needs gravity to flow, showering in space looks a little different from showers on Earth. Astronauts shower in a pressurized cabin so that water droplets do not scatter throughout the ship because, in space, water is a valuable resource, and it needs to be saved. In the cabin, the astronaut pours water over himself from a hose, rubbing it over his body. The used liquid is sucked into a sealed container for cleaning and reuse. But most often, astronauts wipe their bodies with a damp towel soaked in a disinfectant. The head is washed with shampoo, which does not need to be washed off; it is simply wiped. But when brushing your teeth, you have to swallow the foam from the toothpaste, so they make a special edible toothpaste for space flights.
What do astronauts eat in orbit?
The astronauts eat four times a day, and their diet is 3200 calories. Besides, when choosing dishes, the taste preferences and national culinary traditions of the crew members are taken into account. For example, when an astronaut from Japan was on board the ISS, his diet included sushi! And once, as part of an advertising campaign for a pizza chain, pizza was delivered to ISS. However, astronauts consume most of their diet in liquid or paste form from tubes since crumbs from ordinary products can clog the ventilation system, damage instruments, or enter the respiratory tract.
How to scratch your face in a spacesuit
The spacesuit helmet is completely sealed, so if your face itches, you simply cannot reach it. The only solution is to stick a piece of plaster on the inside of the helmet and rub your face against it.
How to sneeze in a spacesuit
In a spacesuit, you may not only want to scratch something but also sneeze. If you sneeze as you do on Earth, all the glass will be splashed, and the view will be blocked, which may cause the mission to be aborted. To avoid this, the astronauts tilt their heads down and press their chins to their chests. However, sneezes do not happen that often because all astronauts undergo medical examinations before the flight to minimise such risks.
After a long stay in weightlessness, astronauts are getting used to the fact that things on Earth do not fly around them in free flight but fall under the force of the Earth’s gravity. So, when they return home, they often drop pens, cups, keys, and other objects until they get used to gravity again.
7 Interesting facts about famous astronauts
Despite the importance of space missions for all humanity, most of the facts about astronauts prove that they are ordinary people who have fun, grieve, make mistakes, obey the laws, and sometimes break them.
In 1998, ISS astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper lost her tool bag in space. She was doing external repairs to the ship and did not properly secure the bag. It unhooked and floated away with 30 pounds of grease guns, trash bags, and a scraper. It was the largest item ever lost in outer space.
Regardless of the nature of the mission, after returning to Earth, all astronauts go through customs. For example, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, returning from the Moon, declared moon rocks, moon dust, and other lunar samples collected from the lunar surface.
Apollo 14 astronaut Alan Shepard became the first person to play golf on the Moon. The ball flew over a mile, setting the unofficial record for the longest flight in the game’s history.
Corvette for an astronaut
In the second half of the 20th century, astronauts in the United States were no less popular than movie stars. General Motors saw Alan Shepard’s passion for Corvettes and decided to use it for promotional purposes. After Shepard’s first flight, GM chief Eddie Cole presented him with a brand new white 1962 Corvette with a space-themed cabin. The company offered astronauts to rent their cars for a symbolic $1, which Gus Grissom, John Glenn, and other famous astronauts took advantage of with great pleasure.
Neil Armstrong’s partner on Apollo 11 had a great sense of humor. When Alan Shepard made the first suborbital flight, Aldrin stated that Shepard was sent into space only because they first wanted to send a monkey, but animal rights activists were so outraged that they had to replace it with an astronaut. And at the age of 72, Buzz willingly “scratched” the jaw of a lunar conspiracy supporter who called the astronaut a coward and a liar.
Age is not a limit
John Glenn is still the oldest astronaut in space. He went on his second space flight in 1998 at the age of 77, when he was already a US senator. The shuttle Discovery flight lasted 213 hours and 44 minutes, and Glenn endured it stoically. Thanks, Mr. Glenn. It is really one of the coolest facts about how astronauts travel in space.
Good luck, Mr. Kinsky!
Everyone knows Neil Armstrong’s legendary phrase, which he said on the Moon — “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” But not everyone knows that there was another, rather mysterious phrase, the meaning of which Armstrong explained shortly before his death. It turned out that in the small town in Ohio, where Neil Armstrong lived as a child, their family had neighbors named Kinski – a husband and wife who often quarreled with each other. Once a woman cried out to her husband: “The neighbor boy will sooner run around the moon than I will have sex with you!” Young Neil, who became an unwitting witness to the quarrel, remembered this phrase well. Stepping on the Moon in 1969, he said: Good luck, Mr. Kinski!
These are not all interesting facts about astronauts. In truth, we haven’t even told half of it. Of course, you will say that the profession of an astronaut is difficult and dangerous, but let’s agree — all costs pale in comparison with the significance of the mission carried out and the incredible beauty of space if you are lucky enough to see it. After all, in this bewitching majestic emptiness, one moment is worth a thousand earthly ones.