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Facts about Astronauts For Kids

Astronauts are people who work as spaceflight crew members and who travel into outer space. The first astronaut was Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who became the first to travel into outer space when he completed a single orbit of the Earth on April 12, 1961. Since then, thousands of people have traveled into outer space, including Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin and Soviet Union’s Yury Gagarin and Valentina Tereshkova.

  • The first US citizen in outer space was US astronaut Alan Shepard on May 5th, 1961.
  • Neil Armstrong is the only person to walk on the moon twice because he made his second moonwalk on Apollo 15 in 1971.
  • Pioneering the space program are Vasiliy Mishin, who begins design work on spacesuit in Russia in 1930s, and John Houbolt who conducts first rocket powered rocket flight in 1950.
  • Spots in the U.S. spaceflight program were filled by civilian astronauts beginning with Alan Shepard on May 5th, 1961.
  • Scott Carpenter was the first astronaut to orbit Earth in 1962. [his flights were cancelled due to a medical issue].
  • The longest gap between flights of a United States astronaut was 10 years between John Glenn’s missions in 1962 and 1967 and Neil Armstrong’s flights from 1969 to 1972.
  • The first female space traveler was Russian Valentina Tereshkova on June 16th, 1963. She was also the first person to perform a spacewalk.
  • The only country that doesn’t send astronauts into space is Vatican City.
  • Neil Armstrong made his first trip aboard Gemini 8 in 1966.
  • The United States’ unmanned Apollo 4, flown on October 9th, 1967, was the first time humans had traveled to the moon without flying past it in orbit on an Earth orbital mission beforehand.
  • John Young was the first person to fly into Earth orbit seven times.
  • The Apollo 13 was launched on April 11th, 1970, carrying astronauts Thomas K. Mattingly II, John L. Swigert Jr., and James A. Lovell Jr..
  • It was the twelfth manned spaceflight of NASA’s Apollo program and its third lunar-landing attempt.
  • The Apollo 13 mission had to be aborted due to an explosion on board the spacecraft on April 13th, 1970.
  • The total cost of launching all American astronauts from Project Mercury through the end of the Apollo program is estimated to have been $20 billion in 1969 dollars.