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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).

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(aerospace engineering)
In United States terminology, a person who rides in a space vehicle.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
All scenarios are in sealed envelopes and astronauts get to pick one before the start of the exam.
This is where the UAE's first Emirati astronaut Hazza Al Mansoori and reserve astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi spent the last year to prepare for the mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on September 25.
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The training is part of the preparations for the first Emirati astronaut to travel to the ISS on 25th September aboard the Soyuz MS 15, and part of the overall training plan for the two Emirati astronauts.
We strive to see the UAE Astronaut Programme achieve its objective of preparing generations of Emiratis who will contribute to enhancing the country's position in space science and research to serve the ambitious aspirations aimed at building a national knowledge-based economy".
Roscosmos took detailed measurements of the astronauts' bodies to design the seats, in line with the agreement to send the first Emirati astronaut to participate in scientific research in a space mission to the ISS.
Hazzaa AlMansoori, the prime astronaut and Sultan AlNeyadi, the backup astronaut for the scientific mission to ISS, attended the workshops.
Two American astronauts -- Anne McClain and Christina Koch, were scheduled on March 29 by the Canadian Space Agency to lead the first all-female spacewalk.
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