National Astronaut Day
National Astronaut Day is a commemorative day held on May 5 since 2017. It commemorates the first United States human spaceflight, on May 5, 1961, piloted by astronaut Alan Shepard.
Of the 570 or so people to have launched into space – only 65 have been women. That’s roughly 11% representation on the launchpad. No woman has yet walked on the Moon. Although Dr Randy Lovelace argued way back in the 1960s that women could be highly suitable for space because they were smaller and lighter for small space vehicles, and his ‘FLATs’ (Fellow Lady Astronaut Trainees) trainee program proved they could compete with – and sometimes outperform – their male counterparts, it would be decades before there was anything approaching parity in crew rosters.
In 2013, for the first time, the NASA astronaut class was equally split between men and women and in 2021 NASA changed their radiation exposure limits so that women would no longer be limited in their time in space.
Be sure to check out groundbreaking women astronauts such as Valentina Tereshkova, Svetlana Savitskaya, Sally Ride, Mae Jamison, Susan Helms, Peggy Whitson, Christina Koch, Kathy Sullivan, Samantha Cristoforetti, and Helen Sharman. Also, we have profiles and more information about astronauts in our Young Women LEAD Club website.
Here are 8 cool facts about Astronauts that you may not know:
- Sally Ride was not only the first American woman to go to outer space, but she was also the youngest.
- Alan Shephard hit a golf ball while he was on the moon.
- Astronauts have to learn Russian to travel into the international space station to read manuals on the Russian side and communicate.
- Exercising while you are in space is very important so that astronauts suffer bone and muscle loss.
- Astronaut Charles Duke signed a photograph of his wife and two children, which read, ” This is the family of Astronaut Duke from Planet Earth. Landed on the moon, April 1972.”
- Astronauts have to wear maximum absorbency garments in space. They are diapers. Missions can last long, and live in space is difficult; it’s best to be safe.
- The word “Astronaut” comes from a Greek word, “Astron nautes,” which means star sailor.
- Astronauts can grow up to 3% taller while in space. They return to their normal height a couple of months after they return to earth.