An astronaut or cosmonaut is basically a person trained by a human spaceflight program to command, pilot, or serve as a crew member of a spacecraft. While generally reserved for professional space travelers, the terms are sometimes applied to anyone who travels into space, including scientists, politicians, journalists, and tourist. Continue reading to see how they do everyday things in space.
The first non-governmental space traveler was Byron K. Lichtenberg, a researcher from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who flew on STS-9 in 1983. In December 1990, Toyohiro Akiyama became the first paying space traveler as a reporter for Tokyo Broadcasting System, a visit to Mir as part of an estimated $12 million (USD) deal with a Japanese TV station, although at the time, the term used to refer to Akiyama was “Research Cosmonaut”. Akiyama suffered severe space sickness during his mission, which affected his productivity.
Until 2002, astronauts were sponsored and trained exclusively by governments, either by the military, or by civilian space agencies. With the sub-orbital flight of the privately funded SpaceShipOne in 2004, a new category of astronaut was created: the commercial astronaut.
3. Washing Hands
The criteria for what constitutes human spaceflight vary. The Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) Sporting Code for astronautics recognizes only flights that exceed an altitude of 100 kilometers (62 mi). In the United States, professional, military, and commercial astronauts who travel above an altitude of 50 miles (80 km) are awarded astronaut wings.
As of June 20, 2011, a total of 654 people from 38 countries have reached 100 km (62 mi) or more in altitude, of which 520 reached low Earth orbit or beyond. Of these, 24 people have traveled beyond Low Earth orbit, to either lunar or trans-lunar orbit or to the surface of the moon; three of the 24 did so twice: Jim Lovell, John Young and Eugene Cernan. The three astronauts who have not reached low Earth orbit are spaceplane pilots Joe Walker, Mike Melvill, and Brian Binnie.
Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov was the first person to conduct an extra-vehicular activity (EVA), (commonly called a “spacewalk”), on March 18, 1965, on the Soviet Union’s Voshkhod 2 mission. This was followed two and a half months later by astronaut Ed White who made the first American EVA on NASA’s Gemini 4 mission.