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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 ?
Saddened for the loss of former astronaut colleague John Young - the astronauts' astronaut, a true legend," said retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelly on Twitter.
They will also be responsible for sharing their knowledge and experiences with other international astronauts and promote UAE achievements in the space sector.
The UAE Astronauts Programme is part of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre initiatives, and is dedicated to selecting and training ambitious and successful Emiratis in space exploration.
Only then will they be sent to the International Space Station (ISS) to carry out vital experiments and to share knowledge and experience with other global astronauts.
The campaign includes an Agency exclusive collaboration with Fisher Space Pen Co(TM) for the first ever "Astronaut Signature Pen" Series, awareness and fundraising for over 20 different charity partners, free downloadable "inspirational" Astronaut cards, and a #WeBelieveInAstronauts Social Media campaign which offers Space and Astronaut fans a chance to win a Skype session with an Astronaut
At NASAs Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley, Erin Flynn-Evans has been investigating the quality of astronauts sleep during spaceflight to better understand how sleep disturbances, such as noise and uncomfortable temperatures, cause sleep deficiency, which can throw off their circadian rhythms.
The study was established following previous research which documented ocular changes in astronauts after space flight.
7DARK 7 DARK STAR (1974) SMALL budget movie about four astronauts who have been together for 20 years on a mission in deep space.
Yang, country's first astronaut, who went into space in 2003, said many countries submitted proposals to the Chinese government during the development of the space station, hoping China would help train their astronauts and then send them to the station to conduct scientific experiments.
The fact fully proves that female astronauts are completely competent for fulfilling space flight missions," Wu said while briefing the press just ahead of the imminent Shenzhou-9 manned space mission to be launched on Saturday.
In about three to five years, NASA hopes to pay for trips for astronauts headed to the space station on American-built commercial rockets instead.
In the central part of the capsule, a set of supporting facilities are built for astronauts to exercise, which can be folded away.