Astronauts operate spacecraft, organize operations, conduct equipment repairs and work with scientists on research projects. A NASA spacecraft crew consists of around five astronauts, each with specific duties.Continue Reading
Each spacecraft has a commander and pilot; both are responsible for supervising the flight. The commander has the main authority, and his job involves overseeing the mission and ensuring the safety of the crew members throughout the flight. He maneuvers the spacecraft with the aid of the pilot.
Mission specialists handle various daily tasks to keep the vehicle functional and habitable for the crew, including scheduling the crew’s activities, monitoring equipment and managing the food inventory. They work side by side with payload specialists, who are sometimes included in space missions to carry out unusual tasks. Mission specialists are also trained to fix state-of-the-art equipment while in space. They perform exterior repairs by using a remote manipulator system or by doing space walks, meaning they go outside of the spacecraft. Pilots typically help mission specialists when repairing equipment and retrieving satellites.
While astronauts are not directly in charge of managing research projects, their assistance is essential to the work of scientists. They assist scientists in improving the design of research used in space and give advice on how to deal with challenging situations.Learn more about Space Travel
The spacesuit used by NASA separates into two parts, allowing an astronaut to don the legs before climbing into the upper torso module that contains the life-support gear. Before climbing in, however, the astronaut must first put on a spandex cooling and ventilation suit, communications gear, medical sensors and a urine collector. Once the suit is locked, the astronaut adds a helmet and gloves for full protection.Full Answer >
Mae Jemison made history as the first African-American female astronaut. In September 1992, she flew into space aboard the space shuttle Endeavor as a science mission specialist.Full Answer >
An astronaut pen is a specially designed ballpoint pen that can write in zero gravity, upside down, underwater and in a wide range of different temperatures. The microgravity encountered in space rendered traditional ballpoint pens useless, so both the United States and Soviet Union began to study ways to create a writing instrument for use in space. Both countries adopted the design created by the Fisher Space Pen Company.Full Answer >
Dr. Mae Jemison is a former NASA astronaut. When she flew into space aboard the Endeavor in 1992, she became the first African-American woman in space. As the science mission specialist, Jemison was responsible for conducting crew-related scientific experiments on the space shuttle, including examining the crew's motion sickness.Full Answer >