The concept of astronaut derives from the English word astronaut. The term refers to an individual who is trained to tripular a spacecraft (a vehicle that can leave the atmosphere of the Earth and flying in space).
Astronauts, also called cosmonauts, must have extensive technical knowledge, but also an optimal physical condition and a healthy psychological scheme to support the living conditions in aircrafts and space stations.
The first person to go into outer space was a Russian astronaut: Yuri Gagarin (1934-1968). This astronaut traveled on April 12, 1961 in the Vostok 1 spacecraft, making a flight of 108 minutes.
Beyond the enormous achievement of Gagarin and the Soviet authorities, it can be said that the most famous astronauts in history are three Americans: Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, crew members of the Apollo 11 spacecraft that allowed the arrival of human beings to the moon. Armstrong, thus became the first human to set foot on the natural satellite of the Earth, followed by Aldrin ( Collins remained on the ship).
Note that the activities carried out in orbit generate different effects on the body of astronauts. Weightlessness can cause nausea, dizziness, and vomiting. When they are in space for a long time, astronauts lose muscle mass, their immune systems are weakened and they experience sleep disorders, among other complications.
In space, on the other hand, astronauts have difficulty executing certain movements with precision, they may suffer asthenia (fatigue or general weakness that makes it difficult or impossible to carry out certain tasks that are easy in other conditions) and many times present a state irritability.
Astronaut training and requirements
Many children dream of becoming astronauts. However, like other vocations that appear during childhood, its implementation requires a very hard work of preparation that only some can overcome.
Becoming an astronaut is not impossible, but very difficult: Japan, Canada, ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA, among other countries and agencies, select their candidates with great rigor. Before deciding to go through training, it is necessary to know that there are two categories to which we can aspire within this profession: pilot and specialist.
Broadly speaking, all candidates who have completed university studies are asked, although each specialist must have specific knowledge.
In the United States, pilots who work in the military take priority over civilians when applying for a similar position at NASA. They must have a minimum of a thousand flight hours on their service record and be taller than 1.63 meters and less than 1.93 meters.
Among the most common college degrees for specialists are engineering degrees in physics, biology, chemistry, and mathematics. In addition, the requirement of a doctorate is common to guarantee the highest possible academic rank.
The physical requirements to perform as an astronaut are perfect vision, a blood pressure value above 14 and measuring between 1.49 and 1.93 meters. With regard to age, the range is very small, since it includes a range that goes from 27 to 37 years (in the case of the Shuttle program, the maximum is 35).
Needless to say, the filter is exhaustive. However, getting through it is just the beginning: the training that aspiring astronauts must undergo can last up to eight years, and comprises both a theoretical part and a practical part. They must learn scientific concepts that allow them to understand and operate the different devices, as well as learn to move effectively in zero-gravity environments.