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The word 'astronaut' comes from the Latin words 'astron nauts' which literally means star sailor.
How awesome it is to sail among the stars! You might be surprised to know that you must learn Russian to be an astronaut and to board the International Space Station!
That’s right: you must be able to read manuals on the Russian side, communicate and know what’s going on. That’s a lot of work to be a star sailor. Read along to find out about the European space agency, the first human space race, and many more interesting topics.
A very common question about astronauts going to a space station is how do they pee? How do they use toilets? Firstly, astronauts wear diapers, also known as 'maximum absorbency garments'. Why do space suits have diapers? It’s because space missions could be really unpredictable and you can’t poop on a toilet everywhere so you have to do it in the diaper. Secondly, astronauts are trained to use toilets which are basically a hose and a bucket, each with a vacuum. Training toilets at NASA have cameras underneath, so you know you have positioned yourself right.
We all know about Neil Armstrong, who was the first human ever to walk on the moon. But do you know about the first woman astronaut? Valentina Tereshkova, a Russian cosmonaut, was the first woman in space who flew on Vostok 6 on June 16, 1963. Additionally, Sally Ride was the first American woman to travel into space on June 18, 1983. She was a member of a space shuttle mission as an astronaut. Her job entailed operating the robotic arm. She used the arm to assist in the launch of satellites into orbit. In 1984, she rode on the space shuttle once more. Other women who have set records in space history are Mae Jemison (the first African American woman in space), Susan Helms (the first female crew member aboard the space station), Jessica Meir, and Christina Koch (part of the first all-female spacewalk), and several others.
Then there is the unsung hero, Michael Collins, the often forgotten astronaut on Apollo 11, waiting for his crewmates to return from the lunar surface, and having not walked the moon by himself. After reading these facts about astronauts as space travelers, also check out Apollo 13 space mission and the all-female spacewalk.
There has been a constant space race between 18 different countries since the year 2000. Every now and then human astronauts have made it to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of the space program. An American astronaut, Mark Kelly, holds the record of the longest continuous stay at ISS, which was nearly one year long.
However, going into space has costs. The cost here involves health risks, which could be listed as DNA damage, blood pressure changes, bone loss, and muscle loss. Most of them are caused by harmful radiation, and the rest are due to microgravity.
Experts examining these health risks at NASA claim that there is no 100% effective way to safeguard sensitive human skin against certain types of radiation, especially on long journeys such as a trip to Mars. One type of radiation can come from 'galactic cosmic rays'. These rays can put humans at an increased risk of heart disease, cancer, central nervous system disorders, and acute radiation syndrome. Additional risks may be associated with sleep loss, circadian rhythm issues, and work overload. These are risks even though astronauts have special equipment that allows travel for long periods. Everyone is taught basic physical science, and also how to maintain equipment in the jet aircraft.
Astronauts now consume a diversified diet similar to what we eat here on Earth. More than 100 things are available on the menu aboard the International Space Station (ISS), ranging from vegetables and fruit to pre-prepared meals and desserts.
There are even condiments like ketchup and mustard. Three meals a day are served and snacks can be consumed at any time, ensuring that astronauts consume at least 2,500 calories each day. The mission team prepares these foods that are taken into space, and astronauts often choose from a menu. Scientists have devised novel methods of packaging and preparing vegetables and meals to enable astronauts to dwell in space for extended periods of time.
Scientists and Mission Control choose food items for transport that are light-weight, nutritious, and easy to eat.
Fresh foods, including fruit and vegetables with a two-day shelf life, are refrigerated onboard the spaceship and consumed immediately to minimize deterioration. These types of foods are supplied to keep morale high because vitamins and nutrients can be obtained in other ways.
Ionizing radiation is used to treat meat and dairy products before they are packaged. This extends the shelf life of the commodities and minimizes the chance of microbial contamination.
Intermediate moisture meals contain a small amount of water (enough to prevent microbial growth) and have a soft feel. These are made using methods such as salting or sun-drying, and they don’t require any additional preparation.
Nuts, biscuits, and chocolate bars are examples of natural form foods that are readily packaged and ready to eat.
Removing water from food or drink makes it difficult for bacteria to multiply, extending the shelf life of the product and reducing the risk of spoiling. When the astronauts are ready to dine, water is restored to these products.
Yuri Gagarin was the first man in space and the first to eat in space in 1961. Yuri used to eat liver and beef paste from an aluminum tube by pressing it into his mouth aboard Vostok 1 on April 12, 1961. Dessert was chocolate sauce, and this food was consumed in the same manner.
Drinking fluids in space requires astronauts to suck liquid from a bag through a straw because due to microgravity water would float away from the container. A low-pressure hose is used to refill these bags at water stations. Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin is the only astronaut to have consumed alcohol in space, specifically on the Moon. Before Aldrin and Armstrong left the Moon, Aldrin completed Holy Communion as the Apollo 11 lunar module sat on the Moon’s surface.
To become an astronaut, the first step is to understand the process, which dates back to 1959, when the military picked the first astronauts. The earliest astronauts were military men with experience flying jet planes and had engineering credentials. Read on for some interesting facts about astronauts, the space travelers.
To fit in the Mercury spacecraft, astronauts had to be under 5 ft 11 in (1.8 m) tall. Space exploration necessitates scientific knowledge and the capacity to apply it, in addition to flight and engineering skills. As a result, NASA began looking for scientists to become astronauts in 1964. A Ph.D. in medicine, engineering, or natural science such as physics, chemistry, or biology was one of the requirements for scientist-astronauts back then.
The Astronaut Selection Board studies and evaluates each candidate’s qualifications. In 2016, they received a record-breaking 18,300 applications. Following that, the board selects a small group of the best candidates for interviews at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
About half of those interviewed are invited back for follow-up interviews. NASA’s new astronaut candidates are chosen from this group. They go to Johnson for training and spend the next two years learning fundamental astronaut abilities such as spacewalking, managing the space station, flying T-38 jet planes, and commanding a robotic arm.
Yuri Gagarin’s homeland, the former Soviet Union, presented him with a miniature military-style badge indicating that he was a pilot-cosmonaut of the USSR two days after he became the world’s first person to fly into space.
The first-of-its-kind device, which depicted a satellite and spacecraft in orbit over Earth, was given to every Soviet cosmonaut who flew in space until 1991, and subsequently, following a small revision, to every Russian Federation pilot-cosmonaut up to now.
In December 1961, eight months after Gagarin’s achievement, the United States Navy and the United States Air Force bestowed astronaut wings to Alan Shepard and Virgil Grissom. Both devices had a five-pointed star in the middle with three trailing rays going through a halo, a symbol that would subsequently be modified as a lapel pin worn by NASA astronauts, with a gold version for those who ventured into space.
Additional devices and pins have been designed to symbolize different subsets of space passengers in the 60 years after those first emblems were unveiled. The British Interplanetary Society, for example, designed a rocket-shaped pin to honor British astronauts, while the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) awards commercial astronaut wings to flight crews on board approved private spacecraft in the United States.
As previously stated, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) coined the term astronaut for describing men and women who were under training to go into space.
An earlier job description for an astronaut was that of an observer, a person who would watch and document what was going on.
Mission specialist astronauts collaborate with pilots on experiments, satellite launches, and spacecraft and equipment maintenance. Scientists, engineers, and doctors all come from backgrounds in science, engineering, and medicine. They can also fulfill the role of an astronaut instructor, encouraging youngsters to seek a career in the United States space program.
Pilots and commanders of the space shuttle and the International Space Station are called pilot astronauts. They are in charge of the mission, the mission's success, the crew, and the flight’s safety.
A neutral buoyancy simulator is used to replicate weightlessness on Earth. A pool, where astronauts practice for spacewalks underwater, is among the simulators and equipment available at the Johnson Space Center to prepare astronauts for their job in space.
The Federal Government’s General Schedule pay scale for grades GS-12 through GS-13 is used to calculate salaries for civilian astronaut candidates. The grade assigned to each student is based on his or her academic achievements and work experience. A GS-12 currently earns $65,140 per year, with a GS-13 earning up to $100,701 per year. Military astronaut candidates are stationed at NASA’s Johnson Space Center and are required to maintain an active duty status for salary, benefits, and leave.
The concept of journeying into the big unknown would be a dream come true for many aspiring astronauts. However, there has been a flood of spaceflight-related disasters in the last 50 years that are more comparable to an astronaut’s worst nightmare.
Approximately 30 astronauts and cosmonauts have died while training for or undertaking perilous space missions in the last half-century. However, the vast majority of these deaths occurred on the ground or in the Earth’s atmosphere, below the recognized space boundary known as the Kármán line, which is roughly 62 mi (100 km) high.
One such tragedy was when a spectacular explosion inside a space capsule atop its launch pad killed America’s first three Apollo astronauts only 218 ft (66.4 m) off the ground. The Apollo 1 capsule was probably thrown into an immediate inferno by an electrical spark, killing the three space-age heroes whose names were household names and putting the nation’s moon exploration effort on pause. It was the first known space disaster in history.
In a routine ground test for their orbital flight, veteran space pilots Edward H. White, 36; Grissom Virgil, 40; and rookie Roger Chaffee, 31; died in flames while lying on their backs in their moon ship. They were said to have died instantly in the fire that erupted in their sealed cabin without notice in pure oxygen.
Being an astronaut is more than just space travel and space exploration. Even the basic training, the astronaut training and the space science training to reach space requires a lot of work and dedication. Controlling yourself in zero gravity is an art in itself.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for astronaut facts then why not take a look at 10 facts about space or astronaut Jemison.
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