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. While generally reserved for professional space travelers, the terms are sometimes applied to anyone who travels into space, including scientists, politicians, journalists, and tourists.

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

Read more about Astronaut:  Definition, Space Travel Milestones, Training, Health Risks of Space Travel, Insignia, Deaths

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Famous quotes containing the word astronaut:

    I’m not making light of prayers here, but of so-called school prayer, which bears as much resemblance to real spiritual experience as that freeze-dried astronaut food bears to a nice standing rib roast. From what I remember of praying in school, it was almost an insult to God, a rote exercise in moving your mouth while daydreaming or checking out the cutest boy in the seventh grade that was a far, far cry from soul-searching.
    Anna Quindlen (b. 1952)

    The report reflects incredibly terrible judgments, shockingly sparse concern for human life, instances of officials lacking the courage to exercise the responsibilities of their high office and some very bewildering thought processes.
    Jane Jarrell Smith, U.S. widow of American astronaut Michael J. Smith. As quoted in Newsweek magazine, p. 13 (June 30, 1986)