Astronaut Facts



  • The very first astronauts were jet pilots.
  • Astronauts must be extremely fit and also have very good eyesight.
  • The American space agency NASA trains its astronauts at the Johnson Space
  • Center near Houston, Texas.
  • The US space shuttle carries three kinds of astronaut – pilots, mission
  • specialists and payload specialists.
  • The pilot or commander’s job is to head the mission and control the spacecraft.
  • Mission specialists are crew members who carry out specific jobs, such as running experiments or going on space walks.
  • Payload specialists are not NASA astronauts, but scientists and other on-board guests.
  • Astronauts learn scuba diving to help them deal with space walks.
  • To cope with the demands of space missions and to help them deal with weightlessness, astronauts undergo tough physical training.
  • They also spend long hours in simulators and jet aircraft.
  • During training, astronauts experience simulated (imitation) weightlessness – first in a plunging jet aircraft, and then in a water tank. They are also exposed to very high and very low atmospheric pressure.
  • Weightlessness can make astronauts grow several centimeters in height during a long mission.