Famous American Astronauts

‘That one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’ Neil Armstrong’s words created one of the most spectacular moments in US history and that of the world. Astronauts are trained individuals who travel in outer space. Though Neil Armstrong is by far the most famous American astronaut that the world knows about and takes pride in for being the first man to step on the moon, American has had numerous other legendary astronauts who have in their own way created history. Remember Alan B Shephard Jr? He was the first American man to go into space. Other than his Freedom 7 mission, Shephard undertook various other missions including the Apollo 14, the third mission to land on moon. John Glenn Jr. was the first American astronaut to orbit the earth aboard his Friendship 7 mission. Not just men, women too left an indelible mark on the space with their space travels. Dr Sally Ride became the first American female astronaut to go in space in the space shuttle Challenger. Born in the American soil, Ellen Ochoa became the world’s first Hispanic female astronaut in 1991. A mission specialists and flight engineer, she is a veteran, four space flights old and has a record of more than 950 hours in space. Know more about famous American astronauts, their life, their career, their space revolutions and their space travels with this segment.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 
Neil Armstrong
(The First Person to Walk on the Moon)

Neil Armstrong
12
Birthdate: August 5, 1930
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Wapakoneta, Ohio, United States
Died: August 25, 2012

The first person to walk on the Moon, Neil Armstrong was an astronaut and aeronautical engineer. Prior to his trip to the Moon, he became NASA's first civilian astronaut to fly in space. After resigning from NASA, he taught in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati. He was a Presidential Medal of Freedom awardee.

 2 
Buzz Aldrin
(Fighter pilot, Astronaut, Engineer)

Buzz Aldrin
12
Birthdate: January 20, 1930
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Glen Ridge, New Jersey, United States
Buzz Aldrin became the second person to set foot on the Moon, as the pilot of NASA’s Apollo 11 mission, 19 minutes after Neil Armstrong stepped on the Moon, on July 21, 1969. Aldrin has also been a U.S. Air Force officer and flew fighter jets in the Korean War.

 3 
John Glenn
(Tthe First American to Orbit the Earth)

John Glenn
14
Birthdate: July 18, 1921
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Cambridge, Ohio, United States
Died: December 8, 2016

The first American to orbit the Earth, John Glenn was an astronaut, aviator, politician, and businessman. Beginning his career as an army man, he was a fighter pilot in World War II. He later joined NASA and was one of the Mercury Seven. Following his retirement from NASA, he became a politician and served in the US Senate.

 4 
Alan Shepard
(Astronaut, Aviator, Entrepreneur)

Alan Shepard
8
Birthdate: November 18, 1923
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Derry
Died: July 21, 1998

Alan Shepard was an astronaut and the first American to travel into space. In 1971, Shepard became the fifth and oldest astronaut to walk on the Moon; he was 47 years and 80 days old at that time. From 1963 to 1969, he played an important role as the Chief of the Astronaut Office. His work inspired several TV series.

 5 
Sunita Williams
(Astronaut)

Sunita Williams
10
Birthdate: September 19, 1965
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Euclid, Ohio, United States

Sunita Williams is an American US Navy officer and astronaut. She formerly held the records for most spacewalk time for a woman and most spacewalks by a woman. In 2007, she became the first person to run a marathon in space. She has several honors under her belt, including a NASA Spaceflight Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, and Navy Commendation Medal.

 6 
Jim Lovell
(One of the First Three Astronauts to Fly to and Orbit the Moon)

Jim Lovell
6
Birthdate: March 25, 1928
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

Retired American astronaut Jim Lovell commanded the iconic Apollo 13 mission and was one of the first three human beings to fly to the Moon, orbit it, and get back to Earth. He had also been a US Navy captain. Following his retirement, Lovell launched a restaurant in Lake Forest.

 7 
Michael Collins
(NASA Astronaut, Command Module Pilot for Apollo 11 (the spaceflight that landed the first humans on the Moon))

Michael Collins
6
Birthdate: October 31, 1930
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Rome, Kingdom of Italy
Died: April 28, 2021

Michael Collins is an American astronaut who became the fourth person to perform a spacewalk. He is also the second person to orbit the Moon alone. Collins is best known for flying the Apollo 11 command module Columbia while Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong landed on the Moon. In 1969, Michael Collins was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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 8 
Sally Ride
(First American Woman To Go in Space, Physicist)

Sally Ride
14
Birthdate: May 26, 1951
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Encino, Los Angeles, California, United States
Died: July 23, 2012
Astronaut and physicist Sally Ride was the first American woman and the youngest American astronaut to enter space. Following her death, it was revealed that she had been in a 27-year lesbian relationship with tennis player and professor Tam O'Shaughnessy. Sally herself was a ranked junior tennis player, too.

 9 
Gus Grissom
(Astronaut)

Gus Grissom
6
Birthdate: April 3, 1926
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Mitchell, Indiana, United States
Died: January 27, 1967

Gus Grissom was the second U.S. astronaut to fly into space. The Distinguished Flying Cross-winner had fought in World War II and the Korean War before being part of Mercury-Redstone 4 and Project Gemini. He died during a pre-launch test of the Apollo 1 mission, along with two colleagues.

 10 
Christa McAuliffe
(Former Astronaut who was chosen for the STS-51-L mission from among 11,000 applications)

Christa McAuliffe
8
Birthdate: September 2, 1948
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: January 28, 1986

Christa McAuliffe was an American astronaut and teacher who died while serving as a payload specialist on board Space Shuttle Challenger, which exploded during STS-51-L. McAuliffe was all set to become the first teacher in space as she was part of the NASA Teacher in Space Project. In 2004, she was posthumously honored with the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

 11 
Mae Jemison
(First African American Woman To Travel To Space)

Mae Jemison
10
Birthdate: October 17, 1956
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Decatur, Alabama, United States

Former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison became the first Black woman to fly into space, as a mission specialist on the Space Shuttle Endeavour. A qualified physician, she has served as a Peace Corps doctor, too. She has written several books and established a non-profit and a tech research organization.

 12 
Kalpana Chawla
(Astronaut)

Kalpana Chawla
10
Birthdate: March 17, 1962
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Karnal, Haryana, India
Died: February 1, 2003
Astronaut Kalpana Chawla became the first Indian-origin woman to go to space in the 1997 STS-87 mission. She and the other crew members of the Space Shuttle Columbia STS-107 mission died when the shuttle exploded before reaching Earth. The Indian weather satellite MetSat-1 was renamed Kalpana-1 in her honor.

 13 
Mark Kelly
(Politician, Retired astronaut)

Mark Kelly
14
Birthdate: February 21, 1964
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Orange, New Jersey, United States

Mark Kelly is a businessman, politician, retired U.S. Navy captain, and former astronaut. He is the current junior US Senator from Arizona. As a naval aviator, he played a major role during the Gulf War where he flew combat missions after which he was chosen as a NASA Space Shuttle pilot. In 2008, he commanded the Space Shuttle mission STS-124.

 14 
Scott Kelly
(Engineer)

Scott Kelly
10
Birthdate: February 21, 1964
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: City of Orange, New Jersey, United States

 15 
Jack Swigert
(Astronaut)

Jack Swigert
4
Birthdate: August 30, 1931
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Denver, Colorado
Died: December 27, 1982

Jack Swigert was an American astronaut who flew to the moon and spent nearly six days in space. He was an engineer who also held a masters degree in business administration. He was involved in the infamous Apollo 15 postal covers incident. He ventured into politics with mixed fortunes.  He was elected to the US Congress but died before being sworn in.

 16 
Gordon Cooper
(Officer, Astronaut, Test pilot, Aerospace engineer, Engineer, Aviator)

Gordon Cooper
6
Birthdate: March 6, 1927
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Shawnee
Died: October 4, 2004

Part of the seven Project Mercury astronauts, Gordon Cooper manned a 34-hour space mission, becoming the first American to stay for a day in space. As part of the Gemini 5 mission, he and his co-pilot proved it was possible for astronauts to survive a mission to the Moon and back.

 17 
Jonny Kim
(US Navy lieutenant and NASA astronaut.)

Jonny Kim
6
Birthdate: February 5, 1984
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

 18 
Lisa Nowak
(Flight Engineer on Sts-121 and Former NASA Astronaut)

Lisa Nowak
8
Birthdate: May 10, 1963
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States

Former NASA astronaut and U.S. Navy captain Lisa Nowak was part of the STS-121 mission. She made headlines when she apparently attempted to kidnap Air Force captain Colleen Shipman, who was getting into a relationship with astronaut William Oefelein, who had previously dated Nowak. Nowak was subsequently dismissed from NASA.

 19 
Ronald McNair
(Physicist, Astronaut)

Ronald McNair
3
Birthdate: October 21, 1950
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Lake City
Died: January 28, 1986

A doctorate in physics from MIT Cambridge, Ronald McNair worked on chemical lasers before joining NASA and in 1984 flew as a mission specialist on STS-41-B aboard Challenger, becoming the second African-American to do so. In January 1986, he was selected to fly on STS-51-L, but was killed along with rest of the crews when Challenger disintegrated soon after liftoff.

 20 
John Young
(He became the ninth person to walk on the Moon as commander of the Apollo 16 mission in 1972)

John Young
7
Birthdate: September 24, 1930
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: San Francisco, California, United States
Died: January 5, 2018

 21 
Deke Slayton
(Astronaut)

Deke Slayton
6
Birthdate: March 1, 1924
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Sparta, Wisconsin, United States
Died: June 13, 1993

 22 
Bill Nelson
(Former United States Senator)

Bill Nelson
4
Birthdate: September 29, 1942
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Miami, Florida, United States

 23 
Fred Haise
(Former Astronaut who is one of only 24 people to have flown to the Moon, having flown as Lunar Module Pilot on Apollo 13)

Fred Haise
7
Birthdate: November 14, 1933
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Biloxi, Mississippi, United States

 24 
Pete Conrad
(American NASA astronaut was the third person to walk on the Moon)

Pete Conrad
9
Birthdate: June 2, 1930
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: July 8, 1999

 25 
Judith Resnik
(Engineer)

Judith Resnik
7
Birthdate: April 5, 1949
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Akron, Ohio, United States
Died: January 28, 1986

Judith Resnik was an American software engineer, electrical engineer, pilot, biomedical engineer, and NASA astronaut. She was the fourth woman and the first Jewish woman in space, logging 145 hours in orbit. Resnik, who died during the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986, received several posthumous honors. Judith Resnik’s life and career inspired the 1990 TV movie Challenger.

 26 
Scott Carpenter
(Test pilot, Aquanaut, Astronaut, Autobiographer, Aviator, Writer)

Scott Carpenter
5
Birthdate: May 1, 1925
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Boulder
Died: October 10, 2013

 27 
Frank Borman
(Air force officer, Test pilot, Astronaut, Autobiographer, Aviator)

Frank Borman
5
Birthdate: March 14, 1928
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Gary

 28 
Dick Scobee
(Officer, Astronaut)

Dick Scobee
5
Birthdate: May 19, 1939
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cle Elum
Died: January 28, 1986

 29 
Wally Schirra
(NASA astronaut who became one of the original seven astronauts chosen for Project Mercury)

Wally Schirra
3
Birthdate: March 12, 1923
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hackensack, New Jersey, United States
Died: May 3, 2007

 30 
Ed White
(Engineer)

Ed White
11
Birthdate: November 14, 1930
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: San Antonio, Texas, United States
Died: January 27, 1967

 31 
Peggy Whitson
(Astronaut, Biochemist)

Peggy Whitson
7
Birthdate: February 9, 1960
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Beaconsfield, Iowa, United States

The first woman to command the International Space Station, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson was born to farmers and decided to become an astronaut after watching the moon landing on TV. She also boasts of a PhD in biochemistry and has been a researcher and educator of biochemistry and genetic engineering.

 32 
Ken Mattingly
(Officer, Astronaut, Aviator)

Ken Mattingly
3
Birthdate: March 17, 1936
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chicago

 33 
Harrison Schmitt
(Geologist)

Harrison Schmitt
5
Birthdate: July 3, 1935
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Santa Rita, New Mexico, United States

 34 
Edgar Mitchell
(Officer, Astronaut, Aviator)

Edgar Mitchell
3
Birthdate: September 17, 1930
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Hereford
Died: February 4, 2016

 35 
Roger B. Chaffee
(Officer, Aviator, Astronaut)

Roger B. Chaffee
7
Birthdate: February 15, 1935
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Grand Rapids
Died: January 27, 1967

 36 
Eugene Cernan
(Former Astronaut who became the eleventh man to walk on the Moon during the Apollo 17 mission)

Eugene Cernan
7
Birthdate: March 14, 1934
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: January 16, 2017

Michael J. Smith
3
Birthdate: April 30, 1945
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Beaufort
Died: January 28, 1986

 38 
Alan Bean
(American naval officer and aviator who was the fourth person to walk on the Moon)

Alan Bean
5
Birthdate: March 15, 1932
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Wheeler, Texas, United States
Died: May 26, 2018

 39 
Guion Bluford
(Aerospace Engineer)

Guion Bluford
5
Birthdate: November 22, 1942
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

 40 
Jessica Meir
(NASA astronaut)

Jessica Meir
3
Birthdate: July 15, 1977
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Caribou, Maine, United States

 41 
Charles Duke
(Air force officer, Astronaut, Test pilot, Fighter pilot, Flight instructor, Aviator, Businessperson)

Charles Duke
5
Birthdate: October 3, 1935
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Charlotte

 42 
Richard Garriott
(Astronaut, Engineer, Video game developer, Programmer)

Richard Garriott
5
Birthdate: July 4, 1961
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Cambridge

 43 
Kathleen Rubins
(Astronaut, Biologist)

Kathleen Rubins
3
Birthdate: October 14, 1978
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Farmington

Kathleen Rubins is a microbiologist and NASA astronaut. In 2016, she became the 60th woman to fly in space when she launched on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. She traveled to the International Space Station and returned to Earth after a few months. She has spent a total of 300 days, 1 hour, and 31 minutes in space. 

 44 
Rick Husband
(Astronaut)

Rick Husband
3
Birthdate: July 12, 1957
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Amarillo, Texas, United States
Died: February 1, 2003

 45 
Ellen Ochoa
(Engineer)

Ellen Ochoa
5
Birthdate: May 10, 1958
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

Ellen Ochoa is an American engineer and classical flautist. A former astronaut, Ochoa was the first Hispanic woman in space. In 2012, she became the first Hispanic director of Johnson Space Center. Ochoa has won several prestigious awards including NASA's Distinguished Service Medal and Space Flight Medals. In 2017, she was inducted into the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame.

 46 
Anousheh Ansari
(American-Iranian engineer)

Anousheh Ansari
5
Birthdate: September 12, 1966
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Mashhad

 47 
Charles Bolden
(Astronaut)

Charles Bolden
5
Birthdate: August 19, 1946
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Columbia, South Carolina, United States

 48 
Ellison Onizuka
(Astronaut, engineer, and USAF test pilot from Kealakekua, Hawaii, who successfully flew into space with the Space Shuttle Discovery on STS-51-C)

Ellison Onizuka
5
Birthdate: June 24, 1946
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kealakekua, Hawaii, United States
Died: January 28, 1986

 49 
Gregory Jarvis
(Engineer, Astronaut, Officer)

Gregory Jarvis
3
Birthdate: August 24, 1944
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Detroit
Died: January 28, 1986

 50 
Leland D. Melvin
(Astronaut)

Leland D. Melvin
5
Birthdate: February 15, 1964
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lynchburg, Virginia, United States