NASA Astronaut Bruce McCandless II using a Manned Maneuvering Unit outside Space Shuttle Challenger on shuttle mission STS-41-B in 1984.

An astronaut or cosmonaut is a person trained by a human spaceflight program to command, pilot, or serve as a crew member of a spacecraft. Although generally reserved for professional space travelers, the terms are sometimes applied to anyone who travels into space, including scientists, politicians, journalists, and tourists.[1][2]

Until 2002, astronauts were sponsored and trained exclusively by governments, either by the military or by civilian space agencies. With the suborbital flight of the privately funded SpaceShipOne in 2004, a new category of astronaut was created: the commercial astronaut.


The criteria for what constitutes human spaceflight vary. The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) Sporting Code for astronautics recognizes only flights that exceed an altitude of 100 kilometers (62 mi).[3] In the United States, professional, military, and commercial astronauts who travel above an altitude of 50 miles (80 km)[4] are awarded astronaut wings.

As of 17 November 2016, a total of 552 people from 36 countries have reached 100 km (62 mi) or more in altitude, of which 549 reached low Earth orbit or beyond.[5] Of these, 24 people have traveled beyond low Earth orbit, either to lunar orbit, the lunar surface, or, in one case, a loop around the Moon.[6] Three of the 24–Jim Lovell, John Young and Eugene Cernan–did so twice.[7] The three current[when?] astronauts who have flown without reaching low Earth orbit are spaceplane pilots Joe Walker, Mike Melvill, and Brian Binnie, who participated in suborbital missions.

As of 17 November 2016, under the U.S. definition, 558 people qualify as having reached space, above 50 miles (80 km) altitude. Of eight X-15 pilots who exceeded 50 miles (80 km) in altitude, only one exceeded 100 kilometers (about 62 miles).[5] Space travelers have spent over 41,790 man-days (114.5 man-years) in space, including over 100 astronaut-days of spacewalks.[8][9] As of 2016, the man with the longest cumulative time in space is Gennady Padalka, who has spent 879 days in space.[10] Peggy A. Whitson holds the record for the most time in space by a woman, 377 days.[11]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Ruimtevaarder
العربية: رائد فضاء
asturianu: Astronauta
azərbaycanca: Kosmonavt
تۆرکجه: آستروناوت
বাংলা: নভোচারী
Bân-lâm-gú: Thài-khong-jîn
башҡортса: Космонавт
беларуская: Касманаўт
български: Космонавт
bosanski: Astronaut
brezhoneg: Astraer
català: Astronauta
Чӑвашла: Космонавт
čeština: Kosmonaut
Cymraeg: Gofodwr
dansk: Astronaut
Deutsch: Raumfahrer
eesti: Kosmonaut
Ελληνικά: Αστροναύτης
español: Astronauta
Esperanto: Kosmonaŭto
euskara: Astronauta
فارسی: فضانورد
français: Astronaute
Gaeilge: Spásaire
Gàidhlig: Speuradair
galego: Astronauta
한국어: 우주비행사
Հայերեն: Տիեզերագնաց
हिन्दी: खगोलयात्री
hrvatski: Astronaut
Bahasa Indonesia: Antariksawan
interlingua: Astronauta
íslenska: Geimfari
italiano: Astronauta
עברית: טייס חלל
Basa Jawa: Antariksawan
ქართული: კოსმონავტი
қазақша: Ғарышкер
Kiswahili: Mwanaanga
kurdî: Esmanger
Кыргызча: Космонавт
لۊری شومالی: ورگه گرد
Latina: Astronauta
latviešu: Kosmonauts
Lëtzebuergesch: Raumfuerer
lietuvių: Astronautas
magyar: Űrhajós
მარგალური: ასტრონავტი
Bahasa Melayu: Angkasawan
Nederlands: Ruimtevaarder
日本語: 宇宙飛行士
norsk: Romfarer
norsk nynorsk: Romfarar
occitan: Astronauta
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Fazogir
پنجابی: تارہ پاندھی
Plattdüütsch: Astronaut
polski: Kosmonauta
português: Astronauta
română: Astronaut
русский: Космонавт
саха тыла: Космонаавт
Scots: Astronaut
Seeltersk: Ruumtefierder
sicilianu: Astrunàuta
Simple English: Astronaut
slovenčina: Kozmonaut
slovenščina: Astronavt
کوردی: ئاسمانگەڕ
српски / srpski: Космонаут
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Astronaut
svenska: Rymdfarare
Tagalog: Astronaut
தமிழ்: விண்ணோடி
татарча/tatarça: Галәмче
తెలుగు: వ్యోమగామి
Türkçe: Astronot
українська: Космонавт
اردو: خلانورد
Tiếng Việt: Nhà du hành vũ trụ
粵語: 太空人
中文: 宇航员