Human Space Flight

Astronaut Bruce McCandless floating freely
in his space suit
Credit: NASA

How many astronauts can you name? Maybe 1 or 2? Well done if you can name more than 5! But did you know more than 500 people from more than 30 countries have been to space?!

The first astronauts and cosmonauts went to space in the 1950s during the space race. This was a political competition between the USA and USSR to put people in space. The USSR won the race to put the first person in orbit around the Earth. They also launched the first woman cosmonaut.

The Americans worked on their own human space flight programs in the 1960s and 1970s. These included the Gemini and Mercury missions and the Apollo missions to the Moon
Even today, the Moon is still the furthest humans have ever been.

Since 1971 there have constantly been humans in space, as crew of space stations. Space stations are huge spacecraft large enough for several people to live on. They are also science labs which orbit the Earth. Experiments carried out on space stations let us learn about the effects of microgravity. 

Discover the careers of just some of the people who have travelled to space.