Famous American Astronauts

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‘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.
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 1 
Neil Armstrong
(The First Person to Walk on the Moon)
Neil Armstrong
18
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
(American Astronaut, Fighter Pilot and the Second Person to Set Foot on the Moon)
Buzz Aldrin
20
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
16
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
10
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 
Jim Lovell
(One of the First Three Astronauts to Fly to and Orbit the Moon)
Jim Lovell
8
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.

 6 
Sunita Williams
(American Astronaut Who Formerly Held the Record for the Most Spacewalks By a Woman)
Sunita Williams
12
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.

 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.

 8 
Gus Grissom
(Fighter Pilot, Test Pilot and 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.

 9 
Sally Ride
(The First American Woman and The Third Woman in Space)
Sally Ride
22
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.
 10 
Christa McAuliffe
(American Astronaut Who was Killed on the Space Shuttle 'Challenger' on Mission STS-51-L)
Christa McAuliffe
10
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
14
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
(Indian-Born American Astronaut Who Was the First Woman of Indian Origin to Go to Space)
Kalpana Chawla
12
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
(United States Senator from Arizona)
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 
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.

 15 
Scott Kelly
(American Engineer, Retired Naval Aviator, and Astronaut)
Scott Kelly
12
Birthdate: February 21, 1964
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: City of Orange, New Jersey, United States

Scott Kelly is an American engineer, retired naval aviator, and astronaut. He is credited with commanding the International Space Station on three Expeditions. Scott Kelly is the recipient of several awards and honors, such as the NASA Distinguished Service Medal and National Defense Service Medal.

 16 
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.

 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
10
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 
Deke Slayton
(Astronaut)
Deke Slayton
6
Birthdate: March 1, 1924
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Sparta, Wisconsin, United States
Died: June 13, 1993
 20 
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.

 21 
John Young
(American Astronaut and the Ninth Person to Walk on the Moon)
John Young
7
Birthdate: September 24, 1930
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: San Francisco, California, United States
Died: January 5, 2018

John Young was an American naval officer, astronaut, aeronautical engineer, and test pilot. In 1972, he commanded the Apollo 16 mission and became only the ninth person to walk on the Moon. John Young was the recipient of several awards, including the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal. In 1982, he was made an inductee of the International Space Hall of Fame.

 22 
Bill Nelson
(Former United States Senator)
Bill Nelson
4
Birthdate: September 29, 1942
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Miami, Florida, United States
 23 
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.

 24 
Fred Haise
(American Astronaut Who Became the Sixth Person to Walk on the Moon)
Fred Haise
7
Birthdate: November 14, 1933
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Biloxi, Mississippi, United States

Fred Haise is an American retired engineer, NASA astronaut, and test pilot. He also served as a fighter pilot for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps. He was part of Apollo 13 and is one of 24 astronauts to have flown to the Moon. Fred Haise is the recipient of prestigious awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

 25 
Pete Conrad
(NASA Astronaut Who Became 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

Pete Conrad was an American aeronautical engineer, NASA astronaut, aviator, test pilot, and naval officer. He is credited with commanding the Apollo 12 mission, during which he became only the third person ever to walk on the Moon. Apart from winning awards like the Harmon Trophy, Pete Conrad was also inducted into several Astronaut and Aviation Halls of Fame.

 26 
Scott Carpenter
(American Aviator and Astronaut Who was the Second American to Orbit the Earth)
Scott Carpenter
5
Birthdate: May 1, 1925
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Boulder
Died: October 10, 2013

Scott Carpenter was an American aviator, aeronautical engineer, test pilot, naval officer, aquanaut, and astronaut. He achieved popularity in 1959, when he became one of the seven astronauts chosen for NASA's Project Mercury. Scott Carpenter was the recipient of several prestigious awards, including the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. In 1981, he was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame.

 27 
Wally Schirra
(American Astronaut Who Became the Fifth American and Ninth Human to Travel Into Space)
Wally Schirra
3
Birthdate: March 12, 1923
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hackensack, New Jersey, United States
Died: May 3, 2007

Wally Schirra was an American NASA astronaut, test pilot, and naval aviator. He achieved popularity in 1959, when he became one of the seven astronauts chosen for Project Mercury. In 1962, he was part of Mercury-Atlas 8 and became only the ninth human to travel into space. Wally Schirra was portrayed by Lance Henriksen in the film, The Right Stuff.

 28 
Ken Mattingly
(American Astronaut and One of the 24 People to Have Flown to the Moon)
Ken Mattingly
3
Birthdate: March 17, 1936
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chicago

Ken Mattingly is a retired aviator, test pilot, aeronautical engineer, astronaut, and rear admiral in the US Navy. He was part of Apollo-16 and is one of 24 astronauts to have flown to the Moon. Mattingly is the recipient of numerous awards, including the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. In 1983, he was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame.

 29 
Frank Borman
(NASA Astronaut Who was the Commander of 'Apollo 8' Mission)
Frank Borman
5
Birthdate: March 14, 1928
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Gary

Frank Borman is an American former US Air Force colonel, test pilot, aeronautical engineer, businessman, and NASA astronaut. The commander of Apollo 8, Borman was the first of 24 astronauts to have flown to the Moon. In 1982, Frank Borman was made an inductee of the International Space Hall of Fame.

 30 
Dick Scobee
(Officer, Astronaut)
Dick Scobee
5
Birthdate: May 19, 1939
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cle Elum
Died: January 28, 1986
 31 
Ed White
(Engineer)
Ed White
11
Birthdate: November 14, 1930
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: San Antonio, Texas, United States
Died: January 27, 1967
 32 
Harrison Schmitt
(American Astronaut and the Only Person Without a Background in Military Aviation to Have Walked on the Moon)
Harrison Schmitt
5
Birthdate: July 3, 1935
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Santa Rita, New Mexico, United States

Harrison Schmitt is an American geologist, university professor, and former NASA astronaut. He also served as the US Senator from New Mexico from 1977 to 1983. In 1972, Schmitt became a crew member of Apollo 17 and subsequenly the second-youngest person to walk on the Moon. In 1973, Harrison Schmitt was honored with the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.

 33 
Peggy Whitson
(Biochemistry Researcher and First Female Astronaut to Command the International Space Station)
Peggy Whitson
9
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.

 34 
Eugene Cernan
(American Naval Aviator Who Became the Eleventh Human Being to Walk on the Moon)
Eugene Cernan
7
Birthdate: March 14, 1934
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: January 16, 2017

Eugene Cernan was an American naval aviator, astronaut, aeronautical engineer, electrical engineer, and fighter pilot. As of 2022, Cernan remains the last man to walk on the Moon, which he did in 1972 as part of the Apollo 17 mission. In 2007, Eugene Cernan was made an inductee of the International Air & Space Hall of Fame.

 35 
Edgar Mitchell
(American Astronaut Who was the Sixth Person to Walk on the Moon)
Edgar Mitchell
3
Birthdate: September 17, 1930
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Hereford
Died: February 4, 2016

Edgar Mitchell was an American aviator, United States Navy officer, test pilot, NASA astronaut, ufologist, and aeronautical engineer. In 1971, Mitchell became only the sixth person ever to walk on the Moon. Over the course of his illustrious career, Edgar Mitchell was honored with several prestigious awards, such as the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.   

 36 
Roger B. Chaffee
(American Aviator, Naval Officer, NASA Astronaut, and Aeronautical Engineer)
Roger B. Chaffee
7
Birthdate: February 15, 1935
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Grand Rapids
Died: January 27, 1967

Roger B. Chaffee was an American aviator, naval officer, NASA astronaut, and aeronautical engineer. In 1963, Chaffee was chosen by NASA to be part of Astronaut Group 3, a group of 14 astronauts selected for the Apollo and Gemini program. In 1983, Roger B. Chaffee was made an inductee of the International Space Hall of Fame. 

 37 
Alan Bean
(American Aviator and NASA Astronaut 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

Alan Bean was an American aviator, test pilot, aeronautical engineer, NASA astronaut, US naval officer, and painter. He was part of Astronaut Group 3 and was only the fourth person ever to walk on the Moon. Apart from being honored with prestigious awards, Alan Bean was also made an inductee of several Astronaut and Aviation Halls of Fame.

Michael J. Smith
3
Birthdate: April 30, 1945
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Beaufort
Died: January 28, 1986
 39 
Guion Bluford
(Former NASA Astronaut Who Became the 1st African-American to Go into Space)
Guion Bluford
5
Birthdate: November 22, 1942
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Retired US Air Force officer and NASA astronaut Guion Bluford scripted history as the 2nd African-origin person and the 1st African-American to go into space. A trained fighter pilot, he also flew over 100 combat missions in the Vietnam War. The STS-8 Orbiter Challenger crew member later worked in IT and engineering services.

 40 
Charles Duke
(Former NASA Astronaut Who Became the Youngest Person to Walk on the Moon)
Charles Duke
5
Birthdate: October 3, 1935
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Charlotte

Former NASA astronaut Charles Duke has also been a USAF officer and test pilot. At 36, he became the youngest astronaut to walk on the surface of the Moon. Throughout his illustrious career, he went on 5 Apollo missions. He is also an international public speaker.

 41 
Jessica Meir
(American-Swedish Physiologist, Marine Biologist, and NASA Astronaut)
Jessica Meir
3
Birthdate: July 15, 1977
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Caribou, Maine, United States

Jessica Meir is an American-Swedish physiologist, marine biologist, and NASA astronaut. She is best known for her studies of the physiology of bar-headed geese and the behavior and diving physiology of emperor penguins. In 2020, Jessica Meir was named in Time magazine's Most Influential People list.

 42 
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
7
Birthdate: June 24, 1946
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kealakekua, Hawaii, United States
Died: January 28, 1986
 43 
Rick Husband
(Astronaut)
Rick Husband
3
Birthdate: July 12, 1957
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Amarillo, Texas, United States
Died: February 1, 2003
 44 
Ellen Ochoa
(The First Hispanic Woman to Go to Space)
Ellen Ochoa
7
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.

 45 
Charles Bolden
(Astronaut)
Charles Bolden
5
Birthdate: August 19, 1946
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Columbia, South Carolina, United States
 46 
Richard Garriott
(Astronaut, Engineer, Video game developer, Programmer)
Richard Garriott
5
Birthdate: July 4, 1961
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Cambridge
 47 
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. 

 48 
James Irwin
(American Astronaut and the Eighth Person Ever to Walk on the Moon)
James Irwin
3
Birthdate: March 17, 1930
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Pittsburgh
Died: August 8, 1991

James Irwin was an American astronaut, test pilot, aeronautical engineer, and a US Air Force pilot. He was part of the Apollo 15 mission and became only the eighth person ever to walk on the Moon. He was the recipient of several prestigious awards. In 1983, James Irwin was made an inductee of the International Space Hall of Fame.

 49 
Anousheh Ansari
(American-Iranian engineer)
Anousheh Ansari
7
Birthdate: September 12, 1966
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Mashhad
 50 
Gregory Jarvis
(Engineer, Astronaut, Officer)
Gregory Jarvis
3
Birthdate: August 24, 1944
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Detroit
Died: January 28, 1986