An astronaut is a person trained by a human space flight 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.
Becoming an astronaut is neither simple nor straightforward; there are no schools for astronauts or university courses. So how do you become an astronaut and what qualifications and qualities do you need?
It takes years to organize a space mission and altogether hundreds of people are involved in preparing the astronauts and the spacecraft. Astronauts are pivotal to the success of a mission but flight opportunities are limited, so space agencies want to be sure that the astronaut selected will make the best possible use of the precious time they will spend in space.
Astronauts need to be able to apply their considerable knowledge and skills to the tasks for which they have been trained; be able to bear tremendous responsibility while in orbit, and be determined to succeed. This is what makes them special.
The first step to being an astronaut is getting relevant experience in school. There are two main classes of astronaut applicants: military applicants and civilian applicants. Military application procedures vary depending on the branch of the U.S. armed forces you are working for since you apply through your respective branch. Civilians apply to NASA directly.
No matter the background, NASA wants its astronauts to have at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering, biological science, physical science, or mathematics. (The agency maintains a list of exceptions to these degrees, such as geography or aviation management.) Many astronauts have a master’s degree or even a Ph.D. in their field.
NASA astronaut candidates must also pass a demanding physical. Among the requirements:
- 20/20 vision (either naturally or with corrective lenses)
- blood pressure not more than 140/90 in a sitting position
- a height of between 62 and 75 inches
In general, you must be in extremely good shape to be an astronaut as it’s expensive to make an emergency return to Earth in case of a medical emergency in orbit.
Neil Armstrong, the first Man to Land on Moon!
The Space Race begins
Sputnik 1 was the first man-made “satellite”- an object that orbits another in space. It was a victory for the Russians.
Laika the Space Dog, later the years, a second Sputnik craft was launched with a passenger- a dog named Laika, she made a successful orbit of the Earth. But her journey only lasted a few hours. Sadly, Laika died when her cabin got too hot.
The First Spaceman
The first person to fly into orbit was a Russian named Yuri Gagarin.
Walking on the another World
As Neil Armstrong climbed slowly down the Eagle’s ladder to the surface of the moon, he announced, “That’s one small step for the man and one giant leap for mankind” he was the first person to step his foot on the moon. The Americans had won a great victory and Apollo Astronaut went home as heroes. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin spent about two hours outside on the surface of the moon. During this time, they planted an American Flag collected soil samples, and took photos.
Going on a Space Walk
Going out on walking on a space ship is known as extra Vehicular Activity or EVA. It’s a tricky task because space is a very hostile place. To go EVA, you need a spacesuit to provide you with air to breathe and protect you from cold or extreme heat. When astronauts go on EVA, they are usually tied to their craft by cable to keep them from floating away.
A building site in space
Some astronauts stay in space for the months, on ships called space stations There have been a few of these but the one up there now is known as International Space Station (ISS). It orbits us about 16 times a day, 400 km (250 miles) up. The ISS crew gets help from a two-armed robot named Dextre. The robot was added to the station by the Canadian Space Agency in March 2008. The first part of the ISS was launched in 1998, but it would’ve been impossible to build the whole thing on Earth: there aren’t any rockets powerful enough to get something that big into space. Instead, it’s being put together in space, Each new part is flown out by smaller ships, then put together by the crew. The ISS is sometimes visible from the Earth with the naked eye, before sunrise or after sunsets.
Day and Night- On the Board
Day and night don’t mean much onboard the ISS. Earth every 90 min, so the crew members experience 15 dawns every 24 hours. They do try to keep normal sleeping patterns, but they don’t sleep in beds. There are few cabins, but astronauts can sleep almost anywhere as long as they attach their sleeping bags so they don’t float around, bumping into things. In Space, you can breathe normally, but your body doesn’t behave as it does in normal gravity. Meals are tricky, too. Drinks and soups have to sucked from the plastic bags, through straws.
A Draffy toilet
On Earth, the toilet relies on gravity to flush. If you used a normal toilet in space, the water- and everything else- would float around in the air. To avoid this yucky experience, toilets in space use a vacuum cleaner like a machine to suck everything up instead. The urine is then recycled into drinking water. That may sound disgusting, but once purified, it’s actually very clean.
It may take a long, long, long, time, but hard work pays off. It takes a long time training, but they will be ready for when they go to space. So they won’t take their helmet off then can’t breathe. Astronaut had made it possible that people can live and work in orbits with too.