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crew member on a U.S. manned spaceflight mission; the Soviet term is cosmonaut. Candidates for manned spaceflight are carefully screened to meet the highest physical and mental standards, and they undergo rigorous training. The early astronauts had all previously been test pilots, but later astronauts have included scientists and physicians, journalists, and politicians. As far as is possible, all conditions to be encountered in space are simulated in ground training. Astronauts are trained to function effectively in cramped quarters while wearing restrictive spacesuits; they are accelerated in giant centrifuges to test their reactions to the inertial forces experienced during liftoff; they are prepared for the physiological disorientation they will experience in space arising from weightlessnessweightlessness,
the absence of any observable effects of gravitation. This condition is experienced by an observer when he and his immediate surroundings are allowed to move freely in the local gravitational field.
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; and they spend long periods in isolation chambers to test their psychological reactions to solitude. Using trainers and mock-ups of actual spacecraft, astronauts rehearse every maneuver from liftoff to recovery, and every conceivable malfunction and difficulty is anticipated and prepared for. In addition to flight training, astronauts are required to have thorough knowledge of all aspects of space sciencespace science,
body of scientific knowledge as it relates to space exploration; it is sometimes also called astronautics. Space science draws on the conventional sciences of physics, chemistry, biology, and engineering, as well as requiring specific research of its own.
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, such as celestial mechanics and rocketry. Concurrent with all other preparation, astronauts must maintain excellent physical condition. Manned spaceflight began on Apr. 8, 1961, when the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin orbited the earth. Other prominent cosmonauts included Vladimir Komarov, commander of the first Voskhod spacecraft, Alexis Leonov, first man to walk in space, and Valentina Terechkova, first woman cosmonaut. Prominent American astronauts include Alan B. Shepard, Jr., who made a suborbital flight on May 5, 1961; John H. Glenn, Jr., who was the first American to orbit the earth; Neil A. Armstrong, Jr., Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., and Michael Collins, the crew of the Apollo 11 spacecraft that first landed on the Moon in 1969; and Sally K. Ride, America's first female astronaut.


See T. Wolfe, The Right Stuff (1975); G. L. Burdett and G. A. Soffen, The Human Quest in Space (1987); M. Collins, Carrying Fire (1989).


(aerospace engineering)
In United States terminology, a person who rides in a space vehicle.
References in periodicals archive ?
To better accommodate the crew on their space travel, the taikonauts have been equipped with Bluetooth headsets and audio and video devices allowing them to communicate with their families and watch entertainment programs transmitted from the ground.
43) The first phase, which the Chinese have completed, was the launching of taikonauts into space.
At some point, the Chinese may leave a taikonaut in orbit for a period of time.
Chinese scientists and policy makers eagerly point out that when (not if) China launches taikonauts into space, it will be only the third country in the world to have done so.
Leading Chinese rock stars and taikonauts were featured in a massive media campaign promoting the program.
China's goal is to build a space-based manufacturing capability that can be supported with taikonauts (Chinese astronauts) and its proven Shenzhou launch system.
The first two Chinese taikonauts are active-duty PLAAF fighter pilots trained in Russia.
Astronauts (called taikonauts in China, a portmanteau of the Chinese word "taikong" meaning outer space and astronaut) for future missions could be picked from the industrial sector, research institutions and universities, Yang said, adding that women would also be encouraged to apply, according to local media reports.
citizens will wake up one day to watch Chinese taikonauts setting up a lunar base, resulting in us having to catch up once again.
And the astronauts, cosmonauts and soon the taikonauts will line up out the door for their chance to fly.