Astronauts

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

Neil Armstrong.
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Famous As: Astronaut
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.
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Famous As: American engineer
Birthdate: January 20, 1930
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Glen Ridge, New Jersey, U.S.
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.
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 3 John Glenn

John Glenn.
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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.
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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.
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 5 Alan Shepard

Alan Shepard.
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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 Jim Lovell

Jim Lovell
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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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 7 Michael Collins

Michael Collins.
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Famous As: NASA Astronaut, Command Module Pilot for Apollo 11 (the spaceflight that landed the first humans on the Moon)
Birthdate: October 31, 1930
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Rome

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 Sunita Williams

Sunita Williams.
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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.

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 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 Sally Ride

Sally Ride.
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Famous As: Physicist, Astronaut
Birthdate: May 26, 1951
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, U.S.
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

Christa McAuliffe
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Famous As: Astronaut, Teacher
Birthdate: September 2, 1948
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Boston
Died: January 28, 1986

 12 Vladimir Komarov

Vladimir Komarov.
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Famous As: Pilot
Birthdate: March 16, 1927
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Moscow
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.

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 13 Mark Kelly

Mark Kelly
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Famous As: Officer, Astronaut, Test pilot
Birthdate: February 21, 1964
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: City of Orange Township

 14 Mae Jemison

Mae Jemison.
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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.

 15 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

 16 Gordon Cooper

Gordon Cooper
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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.

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 17 Valentina Tereshkova

Valentina Tereshkova.
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Famous As: Pilot
Birthdate: March 6, 1937
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Bolshoye Maslennikovo
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.

 18 Chris Hadfield

Chris Hadfield
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Famous As: Astronaut
Birthdate: August 29, 1959
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Toronto
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 19 Lisa Nowak

Lisa Nowak
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Famous As: Naval flight officer, Astronaut, Engineer, Test pilot
Birthdate: May 10, 1963
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Washington, D.C.

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.

 20 Jack Swigert

Jack Swigert.
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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.

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 21 Julie Payette

Julie Payette.
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Famous As: Governor General of Canada
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.

 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
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 23 Fred Haise

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

 24 Pete Conrad

Pete Conrad
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Famous As: Officer, Astronaut, Aviator, Racecar driver
Birthdate: June 2, 1930
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Philadelphia
Died: July 8, 1999
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 25 John Young

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

 26 Rakesh Sharma

Rakesh Sharma
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Famous As: Astronaut, Military personnel
Birthdate: January 13, 1949
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Patiala

 27 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

 28 Ronald McNair

Ronald McNair
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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.

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 29 Ken Mattingly

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

 30 Timothy Peake

Timothy Peake
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Birthdate: April 7, 1972
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chichester
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 31 Judith Resnik

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

 32 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
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 33 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

 34 Wally Schirra

Wally Schirra
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Famous As: United States Naval Aviator, Astronaut, Autobiographer, Test pilot, Aerospace engineer, Aviator, Businessperson
Birthdate: March 12, 1923
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hackensack
Died: May 3, 2007

 35 Harrison Schmitt

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

 36 Edgar Mitchell

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

 37 Peggy Whitson

Peggy Whitson.
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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.

 38 Dick Scobee

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

 39 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

 40 Mark Shuttleworth

Mark Shuttleworth
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Famous As: Entrepreneur, Astronaut, Engineer, Inventor, Scientist, Blogger, Businessperson, Computer scientist
Birthdate: September 18, 1973
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Welkom

 41 Alan Bean

Alan Bean
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Famous As: Officer, Test pilot, Astronaut, Painter, Aviator
Birthdate: March 15, 1932
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Wheeler

 42 Eugene Cernan

Eugene Cernan
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Famous As: Officer, Aviator, Astronaut, Fighter pilot, Autobiographer, Businessperson
Birthdate: March 14, 1934
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chicago
Died: January 16, 2017

 43 Richard Garriott

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

 44 Ellison Onizuka

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

 45 Charles Duke

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

 46 Sergei Krikalev

Sergei Krikalev
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Famous As: Cosmonaut
Birthdate: August 27, 1958
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia

 47 Anousheh Ansari

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

 48 Guion Bluford

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

 49 Helen Sharman

Helen Sharman
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Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: May 30, 1963
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Sheffield,England

 50 Michael J. Smith

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