An astronaut, otherwise known as ‘cosmonaut’ or ‘taikonaut’, is any person who travels to space on a human spaceflight program to partake as a crew member or command a spacecraft during a mission or exploration. These professionals need years of training in multidisciplinary fields, before they are sent to space on various missions and before they are officially known as ‘professional space travelers’ or ‘spaceflight participants’. The first manned expedition to outer space was by Yuri Gagarin in 1961, followed by the first woman, Valentina Tereshkova in 1963, both of whom were Soviets. The first American in space in a sub-orbital flight was Alan Shepard and the first American to walk on the moon was Neil Armstrong. It takes years to consolidate a space mission and more than a hundred people to prepare astronauts for their space missions. These professionals are pivotal to the success of the space assignments but the flight opportunities are limited. Thus, space agencies like NASA launch astronauts every year and make sure that the astronaut selected will make the best possible use of the available resources for assigned tasks in space. Up until 2003, astronauts were trained by military, government and civil space agents, but now they are trained by the SSO-SpaceShipOne. Here is a collection of biographies of famous astronauts. Explore all the details about them in their biographies, which include trivia, interesting facts, timeline and life history.
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