Astronauts

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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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 1 
Neil Armstrong
(The First Person to Walk on the Moon)
Neil Armstrong
16
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
16
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.

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 4 
Yuri Gagarin
(Cosmonaut)
Yuri Gagarin
10
Birthdate: March 9, 1934
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Klushino, Russia
Died: March 27, 1968
Yuri Gagarin was the first man to travel into outer space when he completed an orbit of the Earth aboard the Vostok 1 in 1961. Following this, he became a national hero in Russia. He had previously served as an Air Forces pilot. He tragically died in a MiG-15 crash.
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 5 
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.

 6 
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.

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 7 
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.

 8 
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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 9 
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.

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

 12 
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.

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 13 
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.
 14 
Vladimir Komarov
(First Cosmonaut to Fly into Space Twice and the First Human to Die in a Space Flight)
Vladimir Komarov
8
Birthdate: March 16, 1927
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: April 24, 1967

Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov was the first from his country to fly into space twice. He died when his Soyuz 1 capsule crashed while re-entering the Earth, due to a parachute failure, on April 24, 1967, which made him the first human to die in a space flight.

 15 
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.

 16 
Valentina Tereshkova
(The First and Youngest Woman in Space)
Valentina Tereshkova
12
Birthdate: March 6, 1937
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Bol'shoe Maslennikovo, Russia
Former cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova is currently part of the Russian State Duma. In 1963, she became the first woman to fly into space when she went on a solo mission aboard the Vostok 6. She has won many honors, such as the Hero of the Soviet Union.
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 17 
Chris Hadfield
(Retired Canadian Space Agency)
Chris Hadfield
6
Birthdate: August 29, 1959
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Sarnia, Ontario, Canada

Chris Hadfield is a Canadian former astronaut, engineer, and singer. Hadfield, who has served in the International Space Station as a commander, is credited with flying two Space Shuttle missions. He is also the first Canadian to successfully carry out an extravehicular activity in space. Before becoming an astronaut, he served as an Air Command fighter pilot for 25 years.

 18 
Scott Kelly
(Engineer)
Scott Kelly
12
Birthdate: February 21, 1964
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: City of Orange, New Jersey, United States
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 19 
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.

 20 
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.

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 21 
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.

 22 
Jonny Kim
(US Navy lieutenant and NASA astronaut.)
Jonny Kim
6
Birthdate: February 5, 1984
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States
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 23 
Julie Payette
(29th Governor General of Canada Who Served from 2017 to 2021)
Julie Payette
8
Birthdate: October 20, 1963
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Canadian engineer and astronaut Julie Payette has been the Governor General of Canada from 2017 to 2021. She was initially a research scientist and then joined the Canadian Space Agency, eventually completing two spaceflights. Payette resigned as governor general after a workplace review accused her of workplace harassment.
 24 
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.

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 25 
Bill Nelson
(Former United States Senator)
Bill Nelson
4
Birthdate: September 29, 1942
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Miami, Florida, United States
 26 
Deke Slayton
(Astronaut)
Deke Slayton
6
Birthdate: March 1, 1924
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Sparta, Wisconsin, United States
Died: June 13, 1993
 27 
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
 28 
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.

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 29 
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
 30 
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
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 31 
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
 32 
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
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 33 
Dick Scobee
(Officer, Astronaut)
Dick Scobee
5
Birthdate: May 19, 1939
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cle Elum
Died: January 28, 1986
 34 
Frank Borman
(Air force officer, Test pilot, Astronaut, Autobiographer, Aviator)
Frank Borman
5
Birthdate: March 14, 1928
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Gary
 35 
Ed White
(Engineer)
Ed White
11
Birthdate: November 14, 1930
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: San Antonio, Texas, United States
Died: January 27, 1967
 36 
Ken Mattingly
(Officer, Astronaut, Aviator)
Ken Mattingly
3
Birthdate: March 17, 1936
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chicago
 37 
Peggy Whitson
(Astronaut, Biochemist)
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.

 38 
Harrison Schmitt
(Geologist)
Harrison Schmitt
5
Birthdate: July 3, 1935
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Santa Rita, New Mexico, United States
 39 
Edgar Mitchell
(Officer, Astronaut, Aviator)
Edgar Mitchell
3
Birthdate: September 17, 1930
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Hereford
Died: February 4, 2016
 40 
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
 41 
Roger B. Chaffee
(Officer, Aviator, Astronaut)
Roger B. Chaffee
7
Birthdate: February 15, 1935
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Grand Rapids
Died: January 27, 1967
 42 
Mark Shuttleworth
(Entrepreneur, Astronaut, Engineer, Inventor, Scientist, Blogger, Businessperson, Computer scientist)
Mark Shuttleworth
3
Birthdate: September 18, 1973
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Welkom

Mark Shuttleworth is a South African-British entrepreneur. He is credited with founding Canonical, the company that developed the popular Linux-based Ubuntu operating system. Mark Shuttleworth became the first African from an independent country and the first South African to travel to space; he traveled as a space tourist in 2002.

 43 
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
Timothy Peake
5
Birthdate: April 7, 1972
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chichester
Michael J. Smith
3
Birthdate: April 30, 1945
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Beaufort
Died: January 28, 1986
 46 
Guion Bluford
(Aerospace Engineer)
Guion Bluford
5
Birthdate: November 22, 1942
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
 47 
Rakesh Sharma
(Astronaut, Military personnel)
Rakesh Sharma
5
Birthdate: January 13, 1949
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Patiala
 48 
Jessica Meir
(NASA astronaut)
Jessica Meir
3
Birthdate: July 15, 1977
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Caribou, Maine, United States
 49 
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
 50 
Rick Husband
(Astronaut)
Rick Husband
3
Birthdate: July 12, 1957
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Amarillo, Texas, United States
Died: February 1, 2003