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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 ?
Applications for consideration as a NASA Astronaut will be accepted at:
4MOON 4 MOON (2009) SAM ROCKWELL plays astronaut Sam Bell and Kevin Spacey is computer GERTY in this space thriller about a three-year mission that never seems to end.
He and his "Train Like An Astronaut" support team will be posting updates regularly -- including his workout videos from space and fitness tips from astronaut trainers.
It's higher and it's farther," the BBC quoted Astronaut Liu Yang, as saying.
The longest space flight by a female astronaut lasted 188 days.
We're ready to serve; we're ready to get going," new astronaut Serena Aunon said Tuesday at NASA headquarters.
Rubber fingertips on the gloves help the astronaut handle tools.
The Astronaut Farmer" is a strange breed of achieve-your-goal cinema, one that seems to exaggerate and criticize the subgenre's inherent Americana (we first meet Charles wearing a spacesuit on horseback, riding after a wandering calf).
The gas-filled suit squeezes an astronaut enough to prevent gases from escaping from the body.
Astronauts, by virtue of what they do, inspire our imagination.
Headed by Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk, its mandate was to test diagnostic and surgical care procedures for astronauts in space and possibly patients in remote areas.
YES Anything we want to do in space we can do more efficiently, more economically, and more safely with automated spacecraft than with astronauts.