Many children dreamed of being an astronaut , being able to travel through outer space, observe the Earth and step on the Moon. The truth is that growing up many realized that becoming one was not so easy. However, it is now a profession that has lost ground to others after the rise of the space race. Despite this, the  International Space Station has  received astronauts uninterruptedly since 2000.


What is an astronaut?

An astronaut is a person who travels into outer space. They have a suit that protects them from the dangers of space and facilitates their tasks due to the lack of gravity. When they are not in space, they carry out repairs and experiments, so they must be highly trained in the area of ​​science.



The term astronaut is used to define the personnel of a spacecraft and its crew. It is also used for people who have traveled to the Moon.



On the other hand, the word astronaut derives from its similar in English, astronaut , first coined in 1929. In turn, its etymology derives from the Greek words ástron ( star ) and naútēs (navigator).

What are you doing

Much of the work that astronauts do on the space station is based on checking the optimal functioning of the environment that surrounds them. This is because your life and your return home depend entirely on it. In addition to the above, the teams where they work require a large capital investment for the companies that send them into space.

On the other hand, space navigators have specific schedules for food, personal hygiene and EVA (extravehicular activities). These activities include video calls with your family, reading or watching a movie for a maximum of 7 hours. This aspect is extremely important because the psyche of astronauts can be affected due to the confinement of space.

Like the VAS, another important aspect in the daily activity of an astronaut is physical activity , since the absence of gravity leads them to lose a lot of muscle mass , so they must do a lot of exercise to try to maintain the maximum amount of possible muscle mass.

However, it is known that astronauts work mostly on Earth and spend very little time in space. Some of them have only traveled once and that is why they focus on conducting research projects and strict training by the time they are sent into space.

What does it take to be an astronaut

According to recent information published by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) some of the main requirements are:

  • Height: must be between 1.57 and 1.90
  • Physical Condition : Prospective candidates must passmilitary-like physical tests , have a blood pressure of 140/90 and a vision of 20/20 or that can be corrected to meet that standard.
  • Age: Although a predetermined age is not required, the average in NASA is about 34 years of age.
  • Studies: requires a bachelor’s degree from a prominent university in the field of mathematics, biology, engineering or physics . Obviously, having postgraduate studies is important for joining NASA.
  • Experience: It is necessary to have worked at least 3 years in the field in the area in which you obtained your university degree . Additionally, it is important to highlight that your responsibilities have grown in this area.
  • Nationality: Possess American citizenship .

On the other hand, the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, has similar but more demanding requirements in terms of anthropometric requirements and a series of moral, intellectual and psychological criteria that space navigators must have.

What do you have to study to be an astronaut

Astronauts typically have a college background in science , be it math, engineering, chemistry, or physics. This is because one of its main tasks in space is to carry out scientific experiments .

Astronauts must complete a thousand hours of work as a pilot in jet aircraft. Also, experience at the K-12 level is taken into account.


Every aspiring astronaut must be competent in:

  • engineering
  • Robotics
  • Programming
  • Chemistry
  • Physical
  • Mathematics
  • Astronomy
  • Mechanics
  • Perform experiments

In turn, every space navigator must possess:

  • Intelligence, above average
  • University education
  • Optimal physical condition
  • Adaptation and speed of reaction
  • Mental maturity
  • Imagination and creativity

Who was the first astronaut

The first cosmonaut to fly into outer space was the Soviet Yuri Gagarin (03/09/1934 – 03/27/1968). He was an aviation colonel and pilot belonging to the USSR space program Wednesday April 12, 1951, was the day that Gagarin reached space in his Vostok 1 ship. His phrase when taking off his ship was: Poyejali! (Let’s go!).

Other featured astronauts

  • Neil Armstrong , the first man to set foot on the moon.
  • Valentina Tereshkova , the first woman in space.
  • Buzz Aldrin, the second person to walk on the moon.
  • Alan Shepard , fifth man to step on the moon and second to be launched into space.
  • Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez , the first Latin American in space.
  • Franklin Chang Díaz , the Latin American with the most hours in space.
  • Rodolfo Neri Vela , the first Mexican in space.
  • John Glenn , third American to fly into space
  • Pedro Duque, the first Spanish cosmonaut.

What is an astronaut’s suit like

The astronauts’ suit is what allows them to breathe in space when performing extravehicular, intravehicular or both activities. The spacesuit protects its wearer from space radiation, extremely low atmospheric pressure, and from heat or cold.

The suit was formerly custom designed for each astronaut. Today some parts of the suit are custom made while others are standard size. The first time it was used was in the United States .

The main functions that a spacesuit must have are: mobility, oxygen, communication, urine collector, temperature regulation, stable pressure and radiation protection.

Also, the parts of a spacesuit are:

  • Helmet
  • Backpack
  • Leg warmers
  • Trunk
  • Gloves
  • Drainage pipes

What does an astronaut eat

Usually, astronauts eat a series of dehydrated foods such as shrimp cocktails, legume burgers or sweet and sour chicken, while fruit smoothies or juices are the first options to drink. The idea is to respect the tastes of the crew of the ships. Also, space sailors must remove their food from small packages before eating.

Furthermore, nutritional planning is done in advance to prevent astronauts from losing muscle mass. When it comes to eating their food, the cutlery is magnetic and the astronauts. The drinks have a bulb that sticks to prevent spillage.

How it differs from a cosmonaut

In the middle of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union, while the Americans named their navigators astronauts, the Soviets named theirs as cosmonauts, a term that still exists today. Also, the word comes from the Russian term kosmonavt , in turn, derived from the Greek words kosmos (universe) and nautes (navigator).

Nowadays, anyone who travels into space using Russian space vehicles is called a cosmonaut. In addition, it is often thought, in a stricter definition, that astronauts are those who exceed the 100 km altitude barrier.


The importance of astronauts lies in their courage to go beyond the known and to explore new frontiers of the universe. Without them, not much would be known about meteorites, the Moon, the Sun, Earth’s orbit and soon Mars.

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