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

Neil Armstrong
10
Famous As: First Person To Walk On The Moon
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

Buzz Aldrin
10
Famous As: Fighter pilot, Astronaut, Engineer
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

John Glenn
8
Famous As: Tthe First American to Orbit the Earth
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 Kalpana Chawla

Kalpana Chawla
10
Famous As: Astronaut
Birthdate: March 17, 1962
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Karnal, 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.

 5 Alan Shepard

Alan Shepard
8
Famous As: Astronaut, Aviator, Entrepreneur
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.

 6 Sunita Williams

Sunita Williams
6
Famous As: Astronaut
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 Jim Lovell

Jim Lovell
6
Famous As: Astronaut
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.

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 8 Sally Ride

Sally Ride
8
Famous As: First American Woman To Go in Space, Physicist
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

Gus Grissom
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Famous As: Astronaut
Birthdate: April 3, 1926
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Indiana
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

Christa McAuliffe
6
Famous As: Astronaut, Teacher
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

Mae Jemison
6
Famous As: First African American Woman To Travel To Space
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 Mark Kelly

Mark Kelly
10
Famous As: Politician, Retired astronaut
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.

 13 Jack Swigert

Jack Swigert
4
Famous As: Astronaut
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.

 14 Gordon Cooper

Gordon Cooper
6
Famous As: Officer, Astronaut, Test pilot, Aerospace engineer, Engineer, Aviator
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 Jonny Kim

Jonny Kim
4
Famous As: US Navy lieutenant and NASA astronaut.
Birthdate: February 5, 1984
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

 16 Lisa Nowak

Lisa Nowak
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Famous As: Astronaut, Engineer
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.

 17 Ronald McNair

Ronald McNair
3
Famous As: Physicist, Astronaut
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.

 18 Scott Kelly

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

 19 John Young

John Young
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Famous As: Astronaut
Birthdate: September 24, 1930
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: San Francisco

 20 Fred Haise

Fred Haise
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Famous As: Officer, Astronaut, Aviator, Fighter pilot
Birthdate: November 14, 1933
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Biloxi

 21 Bill Nelson

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

 22 Deke Slayton

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

 23 Judith Resnik

Judith Resnik
5
Famous As: Engineer
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 Peggy Whitson

Peggy Whitson
5
Famous As: Astronaut, Biochemist
Birthdate: February 9, 1960
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Mount Ayr, 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.

 25 Frank Borman

Frank Borman
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Famous As: Air force officer, Test pilot, Astronaut, Autobiographer, Aviator
Birthdate: March 14, 1928
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Gary

 26 Ken Mattingly

Ken Mattingly
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Famous As: Officer, Astronaut, Aviator
Birthdate: March 17, 1936
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chicago

 27 Edgar Mitchell

Edgar Mitchell
3
Famous As: Officer, Astronaut, Aviator
Birthdate: September 17, 1930
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Hereford
Died: February 4, 2016

 28 Scott Carpenter

Scott Carpenter
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Famous As: Test pilot, Aquanaut, Astronaut, Autobiographer, Aviator, Writer
Birthdate: May 1, 1925
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Boulder
Died: October 10, 2013

 29 Dick Scobee

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

 30 Ed White

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

 31 Eugene Cernan

Eugene Cernan
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Famous As: Former Astronaut who became the eleventh man to walk on the Moon during the Apollo 17 mission
Birthdate: March 14, 1934
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: January 16, 2017

 32 Harrison Schmitt

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

 33 Michael J. Smith

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

 34 Roger B. Chaffee

Roger B. Chaffee
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Famous As: Officer, Aviator, Astronaut
Birthdate: February 15, 1935
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Grand Rapids
Died: January 27, 1967

 35 Guion Bluford

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

 36 Wally Schirra

Wally Schirra
3
Famous As: NASA astronaut who became one of the original seven astronauts chosen for Project Mercury
Birthdate: March 12, 1923
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hackensack, New Jersey, United States
Died: May 3, 2007

 37 Ellison Onizuka

Ellison Onizuka
3
Famous As: Officer, Astronaut, Engineer
Birthdate: June 24, 1946
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kailua
Died: January 28, 1986

 38 Charles Duke

Charles Duke
5
Famous As: Air force officer, Astronaut, Test pilot, Fighter pilot, Flight instructor, Aviator, Businessperson
Birthdate: October 3, 1935
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Charlotte

 39 Anousheh Ansari

Anousheh Ansari
3
Famous As: American-Iranian engineer
Birthdate: September 12, 1966
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Mashhad

 40 Ellen Ochoa

Ellen Ochoa
3
Famous As: Engineer
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.

 41 Richard Garriott

Richard Garriott
5
Famous As: Astronaut, Engineer, Video game developer, Programmer
Birthdate: July 4, 1961
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Cambridge

 42 Rick Husband

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

 43 Jessica Meir

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

 44 Charles Bolden

Charles Bolden
3
Famous As: Astronaut
Birthdate: August 19, 1946
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Columbia, South Carolina, United States

 45 Kathleen Rubins

Kathleen Rubins
3
Famous As: Astronaut, Biologist
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. 

 46 Leland D. Melvin

Leland D. Melvin
3
Famous As: Astronaut
Birthdate: February 15, 1964
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lynchburg, Virginia, United States

 47 Gregory Jarvis

Gregory Jarvis
3
Famous As: Engineer, Astronaut, Officer
Birthdate: August 24, 1944
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Detroit
Died: January 28, 1986

 48 Barbara Morgan

Barbara Morgan
3
Famous As: Astronaut, Teacher
Birthdate: November 28, 1951
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Fresno

 49 Elliot See

Elliot See
3
Famous As: Officer, Test pilot, Astronaut
Birthdate: July 23, 1927
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Dallas
Died: February 28, 1966

 50 Christopher Cassidy

Christopher Cassidy
3
Famous As: Astronaut
Birthdate: January 4, 1970
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Salem