Facts for Kids about Astronauts

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be an astronaut and go to space? You will love these interesting facts about astronauts for kids.

What Does Astronaut Mean?

The term astronaut is a greek word that means “star sailor”. An American person in space is called an astronaut. A Russian person in space is called a cosmonaut.

How to Become an Astronaut

Astronaut candidates must be curious, smart, and hard working. They need to have a master’s degree in Science, Technology, Math, or Engineering.

Getting into the space program is not easy. If you love Math and Science, you can do it!

Inside a Space Shuttle

The part of the space craft that the astronauts travel in is called an orbiter. Believe it or not, the orbiter actually moved backwards as it orbits the Earth. It does that to protect the astronauts from debris.

Astronauts spend most of their time in the crew compartment. There are three levels of the compartment. Astronauts spend most of their time in the mid deck where they eat and sleep. There are special sleep compartments for astronauts because sleeping in space without gravity can be tricky.

You can watch this helpful video from Jared Owen to see inside the space shuttle and learn more about the different parts of the ship.

A Space Suit

A space suit is special equipment that keeps an astronaut safe. It protects the astronaut from debris. It keeps the right temperature and give oxygen. It’s like a miniature space ship for each astronaut.

Going to Space

A space shuttle launches from a launch pad like a rocket and lands like a plane. The space shuttle has two rocket boosters that move the ship for the first two minutes at a high speed. Then they fall off and fall back to Earth. Then, the three main engines work to propel the shuttle for the next 6 minutes. The last thing that is needed to get the shuttle into orbit is two small motors.

Don’t worry, the astronauts aren’t alone in space. They have help at Mission Control. Mission Control is the people and computers on Earth that help and guide the astronauts from the time they launch into outer space until they have a successful landing on Earth.

International Space Station

NASA stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA astronauts work on the International Space Station. The space station is a Science laboratory that orbits the Earth 240 miles in space. Can you believe that? It helps with space exploration and space missions. You have to learn Russian to work at the International Space Station.

Famous Astronauts

Buzz Aldrin – One of the first two people (with Neil Armstrong) to walk on the moon.

Yuri Gagarin – A Russian Cosmonaut (another word for astronaut) who was the first human in space.

Alan Shepard – The second person and the first astronaut from the United States to travel into space. He became famous for hitting a golf ball on the moon. The ball flew for almost a mile.

Sally Ride – The first American woman (the third woman) in space.

John Glenn – The first American to orbit the Earth, going around it three times.

Mae Jemison – The first African American woman to go to space. She was a mission specialist on the space shuttle Endeavor.

Michael Collins – He flew the Apollo 11 around the moon and made a moon landing on the moon’s surface so his crew members, Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, could walk on the moon.

Valentina Tereshkova – The first woman and youngest woman in space.

Guion Bluford – The first African American and the second person of African descent to go to space.

Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov – The first person to conduct a space walk. He exited the capsule for 12 minutes and 9 seconds.

Astronaut Neil Armstrong – The first man to take the first step on the surface of the moon. He said the words, “That’s one small step for man, and one giant leap for mankind.” That is now a well known quote.

Astronaut Charles Duke – A pilot of Apollo 16. He was the tenth person, but the youngest person, to walk on the moon.

Astronauts that Have Walked on the Moon

  • Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin (The first astronauts to walk on the moon.)
  • Eugene Cernan
  • Buzz Aldrin
  • Harrison Schmitt
  • Alan Bean
  • Charles Conrad
  • John Young
  • Edgar Mitchell
  • Alan Shepard
  • Charles Duke
  • David Scott
  • James Irwin

Fun Facts about Astronauts

Astronauts have to train to use the toilet on the space shuttle and they also have to wear diapers just in case they can’t get to the bathroom during their mission.

It is important for astronauts to exercise for two hours a day on special equipment in space.

When astronauts return to Earth from space, they are a bit taller than when they left because they have been without gravity. They go back to their regular height in a few months.

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