Back to School at FamilyEducation.com

ASTRONAUTS

Since Yuri Gagarin became the first spaceman in 1961, hundreds of space travellers, or astronauts (called cosmonauts if Russian), have ventured into space. Experience has shown that humans can work well in space both on board their spacecraft and outside on EVAs. In space, astronauts’ bodies are constantly monitored, both to check their health, and as part of the study of SPACE MEDICINE – research into how the body is affected by weightless conditions.

IN TRAINING

On Earth, an astronaut practises for spacewalking in a water tank. He wears a suit like a spacesuit, which is weighted so that it neither rises nor sinks. Such neutral buoyancy (floating) conditions are similar to the state of weightlessness that astronauts experience, and have to work in, while in space.

ON THE MENU

Astronauts on today’s space flights eat a variety of foods. Some are in their natural state, such as nuts and biscuits, and some are canned or frozen. Other foods are dehydrated and need to be mixed with water before eating. In the early days of space flight, astronauts ate nutritious but unappetizing food pastes out of toothpaste-type tubes.

EVA

Up in orbit, astronauts sometimes have to work outside their spacecraft. This extravehicular activity, or EVA, is popularly called spacewalking. Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov and US astronaut Edward White pioneered spacewalking in 1965. Today, astronauts go on EVAs to recover and repair satellites and carry out construction work on the International Space Station.

AT WORK IN SPACE

On shuttle mission STS-112 in October 2002, astronaut David Wolf worked for over six hours to install equipment on the International Space Station (ISS). He was helped by astronaut Piers J. Sellers. The main purpose of this mission was to take up a new truss (beam) for the framework of the ISS. It was then installed by the astronauts.

REPAIRING HUBBLE

On the shuttle STS-109 servicing mission in March 2002, astronauts installed a new power unit, a new camera, and new solar arrays on the Hubble Space Telescope. On this mission, the astronauts clocked up a record 36 hours spacewalking in five separate EVAs. This was the fourth shuttle mission dedicated to servicing the Hubble telescope.

SPACE MEDICINE

Because of the weightless environment, space flight affects the human body in a number of ways. Muscles begin to waste away and bones tend to lose mass and become more brittle. Exercise and a suitable diet helps to combat these conditions on long space flights.

SPACE CHECK-UP

On shuttle mission STS-95 in 1998, John Glenn was fitted out with instruments to monitor his sleep patterns. In 1962, Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth. He joined the shuttle mission in 1998, aged 77, as part of research into how weightlessness affects the aging body.

Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

Join BIC on our mission to save handwriting and Fight For Your Write! Writing helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence and sparks their creativity. Visit BICFightForYourWrite.com to sign our petition to save handwriting!

11 Coolest Lunch Boxes for Kids
Send your child's lunch to school in style! Check out our picks for the 11 best lunch boxes with great features from BPA-free accessories to spill-resistant fabric.

7 Important Back-to-School Safety Tips
Follow these back-to-school safety tips to make sure your child stays safe on the way to school, in the classroom, and while on the playground.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!