Credit: NASA – Spacewalker’s David Saint-Jacques “Space-selfie”

What is an Astronaut?

The word Astronaut comes from 2 Greek words: astron (star) and nautes (sailor).  Russian astronauts are called “Cosmonauts”, also from 2 Greek words: kosmos (universe) and nautes (sailor). Chinese astronauts are called “Yuhangyuan”, meaning space navigator.

An astronaut is a person who is specially trained to travel into outer space for different missions such as science and research. There are many astronaut positions such as a commander, pilot, flight engineer, payload commander, mission specialist, and science pilot.

Astronaut Space Suit

Astronauts wear a special gear called a “spacesuit” that has many functions, more importantly:

  1. It provides the astronauts with oxygen and filter out carbon dioxide .
  2. It protects them from extreme harsh temperature (e.g. 121 C sun facing side, -157 C dark side), from the radiation of the Sun and space dust.
  3. Sometimes spacesuits are tied to the spacecraft so astronauts won’t float away in space. Other times the spacesuit is equipped with small rocket thrusters to allow the astronaut to navigate easily.

Types of Space Suites:

  1. IntraVehicularActivity (IVA), this suit is worn inside spacecrafts
  2. ExtraVehicularActivity (EVA), worn during spacewalks
  3. Intra/ExtraVehicularActivity (IEVA), used for both inside spacecrafts and during spacewalks
Credit: NASA

What do Astronauts do in space?

Astronauts on board the ISS spends their day working on science experiments. They also maintain the ISS by continuously checking support systems, cleaning filters and updating computer equipment. They also receive and respond to messages from the ground mission control. Sometimes they do spacewalks or extra-vehicular activities (EVAs) to work outside the station.

An astronaut at work (Credit – NASA), is from approximately 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time. This day includes three meals and 2.5 hours of physical exercise to maintain muscle tone and fitness.

Fun Facts

The first human sent to outer space and orbit the Earth?

Yuri Gagarin

A Russian cosmonaut and was aboard the Vostok 1 spacecraft when it successfully orbited the Earth in 1961.

The first person to walk on the moon?

Neil Armstrong

A US astronaut and was aboard the Apollo 11 spacecraft when it successfully landed on the moon in 1968. He also made the famous statement “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

The first woman sent to space?

Valentina Tereshkova

A Russian cosmonaut and was aboard the Vostok 6 spacecraft when she successfully orbited the Earth in 1963.