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Astronauts and Cosmonauts

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  • William Anders
    William Alison "Bill" Anders (born October 17, 1933) is a former United States Air Force officer, NASA astronaut and businessman. He is, along with Apollo 8 crewmates Frank Borman and Jim Lovell, one...
  • Deke Slayton (1924 - 1993)
    Donald Kent Slayton (March 1, 1924 – June 13, 1993), better known as Deke Slayton, was an American World War II pilot, one of the original NASA Mercury Seven astronauts, and a NASA administr...
  • Scott Carpenter, Astronaut (1925 - 2013)
    Malcolm Scott Carpenter (May 1, 1925 – October 10, 2013) was an American test pilot, astronaut and aquanaut. He was one of the original seven astronauts selected for NASA's Project Mercury in ...
  • Gordon Cooper (1927 - 2004)
    Leroy Gordon Cooper, Jr. (March 6, 1927 – October 4, 2004), also known as Gordon Cooper, was an American aeronautical engineer, test pilot and one of the seven original astronauts in Project M...
  • Rick Husband (1957 - 2003)
    Richard Douglas Husband (July 12, 1957 – February 1, 2003) was a United States Air Force Colonel, an astronaut, and the space shuttle commander of STS-107 (Columbia) who was killed when the cr...

On April 7, 2011 United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring April 12 as the International Day of Human Space Flight.*Space Exploration commemorative US Stamps.

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  • The first human in space was Soviet Yuri Gagarin, who was launched into space on April 12, 1961 aboard Vostok 1 and orbited around the Earth for 108 minutes.
  • The first woman in space was Russian Valentina Tereshkova, who launched on June 16, 1963 aboard Vostok 6 and orbited Earth for almost three days.

  • Cosmonautics Day (Russian: День Космона́втики) is a holiday celebrated in Russia and some other former USSR countries on April 12. This holiday celebrates the first manned space flight made on April 12, 1961 by the 27-year-old Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. Gagarin circled the Earth for 1 hour and 48 minutes aboard the Vostok 1 spacecraft. Coincidentally, it is also the anniversary of the first Space Shuttle launch that occurred 20 years after the historic Vostok flight.

  • Alan Shepard became the first American and second person in space on May 5, 1961 on a 15-minute sub-orbital flight.

  • The first American woman in space was Sally Ride, during Space Shuttle Challenger's mission STS-7, on June 18, 1983.
  • In 1992 Mae Jemison became the first African American woman to travel in space aboard STS-47.

  • The first manned mission to orbit the moon, Apollo 8, included American William Anders who was born in Hong Kong, making him the first Asian-born astronaut in 1968.

  • In April 1985, Taylor Wang became the first ethnic Chinese person in space.
  • On 15 October 2003, Yang Liwei became China's first astronaut on the Shenzhou 5 spacecraft.

  • The Soviet Union, through its Intercosmos program, allowed people from other "socialist" (i.e. Warsaw Pact and other Soviet-allied) countries to fly on its missions. An example is Vladimír Remek, a Czechoslovak, who became the first non-Soviet European in space in 1978 on a Russian Soyuz-U rocket.

  • On July 23, 1980, Pham Tuan of Vietnam became the first Asian in space when he flew aboard Soyuz 37.

  • Also in 1980, Cuban Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez became the first person of Hispanic and black African descent to fly in space, Guion Bluford became the first African American to fly into space.
  • The first person born in Africa to fly in space was Patrick Baudry, in 1985.

  • In 1985, Saudi Arabian Prince Sultan Bin Salman Bin AbdulAziz Al-Saud became the first Arab Muslim astronaut in space.

  • In 1988, Abdul Ahad Mohmand became the first Afghan to reach space, spending nine days aboard the Mir space station.

  • With the larger number of seats available on the Space Shuttle, the U.S. began taking international astronauts. In 1983, Ulf Merbold of West Germany became the first non-US citizen to fly in a US spacecraft. In 1984, Marc Garneau became the first of 8 Canadian astronauts to fly in space (through 2010).

  • In 1985, Rodolfo Neri Vela became the first Mexican-born person in space.
  • In 1991, Helen Sharman became the first Briton to fly in space.

  • In 2002, Mark Shuttleworth became the first citizen of an African country to fly in space, as a paying spaceflight participant.