Astronaut Facts

An astronaut is quite literally someone who has been prepared to reach into the stratosphere, skimming amongst the stars.

Astronauts have dedicated long hours to meditating on mission protocols, perfecting complicated technical verbiage, and re-calibrating wrenches in order to propel themselves off our earthly confines.

After all of that hard work, they can finally take up the title ‘astronaut’ derived from the ancient Greek words translating as ‘star’ and ‘sailor’.

An astronaut is a brave individual, willing to explore what lies beyond planet Earth, most often from nations such as the United States, Canada, Japan, or Europe. Their courage provides us with their out-of-this-world experiences from afar.

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Astronaut Facts for Kids

  • Astronauts are people trained to work in space.
  • They wear special suits called space suits.
  • Astronauts live and work in a spacecraft called the International Space Station (ISS).
  • They eat special food that is easy to pack and won’t spoil.
  • Some astronauts have been to the Moon.
  • Astronauts must be very fit and healthy to go to space.

What is an astronaut?

Climbing above Earth to the heavens, astronauts are a special breed of star sailors. Piloting spacecraft into the far reaches of the Universe, they explore places no human eye has ever seen before.

It takes a special kind of person – one with rigorous training and superior physical and mental stamina – to become an astronaut and embark on such daring journeys.

Expertly navigating space vehicles, they are both soldiers and scientists in their mission to expand our understanding of the Universe beyond what we can see.

Requiring precise qualifications and knowledge, only a few truly eligible people who meet these standards are accepted by international space programs.

The International Space Station continues to provide us with multiple opportunities for learning and innovation, allowing any approved astronaut to keep our search for new knowledge alive.

Cosmonauts in Russia and Taikonauts in China they have different names, but their mission is the same: to reach farther, explore deeper, and break boundaries.

Pushing beyond the limits of possibility, they reach for a greater understanding of our world and its place in the Universe.

Living on the cutting edge of technology, cosmonauts and taikonauts face challenges that most of us could never imagine — from analyzing distant planetary rocks to conducting experiments in microgravity.

From orbiting high above Earth to venturing beyond our solar system, their brave steps are pushing humanity ever forward into an unknown future.


Spacesuits are an essential tool for astronauts who need to brave the hostile conditions of space.

These specialized outfits provide protective coverings, life-sustaining air, and relief from extreme temperatures.

Radiation blockage is key to staving off fatal exposure, and these suits come equipped with state-of-the-art defense systems.

Astronauts are often tethered in place while outside the spacecraft, just in case they were to ever float away.

But sometimes, these suits come with their own set of thrusters, allowing incredible mobility around the craft.

These packs on an astronaut’s back make for remarkable freedom within a typically limited area.

Famous Astronauts

Buzz Aldrin

Buzz Aldrin

Buzz Aldrin was one of the most daring astronauts in history. He made the groundbreaking journey to the Moon, becoming only the second human ever to set foot on its surface.

Facing an unprecedented feat of exploration, Aldrin was determinedly fearless. He commanded Apollo 11’s lunar module descent and proved his courage as a true space pioneer.

Blessed with a spirit of intrepid optimism, Aldrin helped blaze trails deeper to space than mankind had ever known before. He remains an enduring symbol of our species’ capacity for dramatic change through exploration and audacity.

Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong holds an iconic place in history, having taken the pioneering first step on the Moon. His famous utterance, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” encapsulates not only his own pioneering spirit but that of a nation.

His courage and bravado had already been displayed during the Gemini VIII mission – a feat that saw two vehicles dock successfully in space amidst many failed attempts by other astronauts before.

He was part of something greater than himself; a determination to put man above all else and push the boundaries of human ambition to go even further.

The Moon landing is held up as a shining example of what humanity can achieve when it sets its mind on something, no matter how impossible it may seem at first glance.

It is thanks to Neil Armstrong’s remarkable courage and dedication that this feat will be remembered for generations to come.

Guion Bluford

Guion Bluford

Guion Bluford made history by becoming the first African American in space, forever changing the way that African Americans everywhere would experience and take part in space exploration.

His journey to outer space was the culmination of exceptional courage and ambition. As a pilot in the United States Air Force, he flew 144 missions during the Vietnam War before becoming a mission specialist on the Challenger Space Shuttle in 1983.

This remarkable accomplishment marked Guion’s as an incredible pioneer of human spaceflight, inspiring thousands of other African Americans to pursue their dreams of one day traveling to space themselves.

Yuri Gagarin

Yuri Gagarin

The sky was no longer the limit when Yuri Gagarin became the first human to journey into outer space. On April 12, 1961, aboard the Vostok spacecraft, this brave cosmonaut heroically explored uncharted galaxies with his pioneering orbital expedition – making history and inspiring generations of astronauts to come.

Gagarin’s transcendent voyage around our planet was remarkable in many respects, from adorning mankind with a newfound understanding of the vast Universe above us to launching a shared global ambition of achieving our aerial aspirations.

Above all else, this incredible feat marked a defining moment in time and acted as a reminder that ordinary people can quite literally reach for the stars – a breathtaking achievement that gave hope to even impossible dreams.

Gus Grissom

Gus Grissom

Gus Grissom was an American hero and a trailblazer in space exploration. Bravely, Gus went to space aboard the Liberty Bell 7 and then went on to command the Gemini II mission, which orbited Earth three times.

Gus had a pioneering spirit and dared to push boundaries. An explorer who dug deep within himself to seek out unknowns and opportunities for growth. His courage and tenacity in this area were remarkable and inspiring.

Sadly, we all mourned his untimely passing as he lost his life during a pre-flight test of the Apollo 1 mission in 1967. We can only imagine what else Gus might have accomplished had his life not been cut short.

John Glenn

John Glenn

John Glenn blasted off into history as the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth in 1962. He was one of the original three US space travelers and the first to take a magical trip around the globe.

In 1998, at age 77, Glenn once again explored new frontiers – this time on board the space shuttle Discovery. Impossibly daring, he became the oldest person ever to fly in outer space!

A record-breaking pilot and explorer of new worlds, John Glenn amazed us by proving that no age should limit anyone’s dreams. His vision of conquering unexplored realms will inspire generations for years to come.

Mae Jemison

Mae Jemison

Mae Jemison made history in 1992 when she became the first black woman to take off into space aboard the space shuttle Endeavour.

Her journey was not just a milestone for female and African-American astronauts but also for humanity as she pioneered a new level of exploration.

She powered through seemingly impossible odds to break new ground and accomplish extraordinary feats in the process.

Her story is an inspiring reminder that nothing can hold us back from chasing our dreams, no matter how daunting or far-reaching they may seem.

Mae Jemison’s groundbreaking accomplishments demonstrate just how much incredible potential lies within us all.

Sally Ride

Sally Ride

Sally Ride was the first American woman to break the glass ceiling for good and burst into space. Her accomplishment marked a historic moment not only for America but also for women around the world.

As a pioneering astronaut, Sally became the youngest American ever to venture beyond our stratosphere. Her unwavering determination inspired generations of young people to explore the unknown and unleash their true potential.

She showed us that when we are passionate and fearless in pursuing our goals, anything is possible!

Her journey wasn’t easy – she had to push past countless boundaries of the conventional and sustain persistence and courage throughout her mission. Today, she continues to be honored as an inspirational astronaut whose legacy opened new pathways for future astronauts.

Alan Shepard

Alan Shepard

In 1961, Alan Shepard became a legend when he soared above Earth in the Freedom 7 spacecraft. He was the second person and first American to ever travel to the stars!

Years later, everyday life on Earth seemed trivial compared to the titanic task of commanding Apollo 14 and making history by being one of only five people who have ever walked on the Moon!

Shepard paved the way for us all to attempt the impossible – shooting rockets through space into realms unknown.

But he also showed us that the sky is the limit and anything can be accomplished if we just believe.

Valentina Tereshkova

Valentina Tereshkova

Valentina bravely broke boundaries as the first female to journey into space! On June 16, 1963, she piloted the Vostok 6 – the rocket that ignited a revolution in the way we view exploration.

Her mission was not only a technological triumph but also an inspiring example of how our dreams can be realized no matter what we face.

Valentina proved that determination and grit could take us past any limits. Her courage and ambition defied expectations, allowing us all to soar above what once seemed impossible.

She showed us that when it comes to groundbreaking experiences, sometimes nothing can stand between you and your goals – the least of all gender norms.

Valentina’s story remains an unforgettable part of history, showing everyone the power of making bold decisions and achieving immense success through tenacity.

Important Facts and Overview

The first woman in space was Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, who flew on the Vostok 6 mission in 1963.

The first person in space was Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who flew on the Vostok 1 mission in 1961.

Michael Collins was an astronaut who flew on the Apollo 11 mission, which was the first manned mission to land on the Moon. He orbited the Moon while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the surface.

Many countries have sent astronauts into space, including the United States, Russia, China, Japan, Canada, and European countries, as part of the European Space Agency.

Space travel can be dangerous and requires extensive training. Astronauts must be physically and mentally fit, and they must be able to handle the challenges of living and working in a weightless environment.