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Astronauts Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Mary Beth Burns

Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.

Astronauts explore outer space and have contributed a great amount to space exploration studies. Learn about the people who truly have a job that is out of this world!

What is an Astronaut?

An astronaut is a special kind of scientist that takes a space ship to outer space to study things like asteroids, the Earth's atmosphere and the Moon. The word astronaut comes from the Greek words meaning 'space sailor.'

What Do Astronauts Do?

When astronauts go to outer space, they go with a purpose to study a specific part of the universe. Before going on a mission, astronauts and other researchers learn as much as they can through reading, experiments and looking at pictures of outer space.

Then, they take their trip to space to see if their research was correct or if they can learn anything new. Some astronauts have orbited the Earth. While a few have walked on the moon, no astronaut has ever walked on another planet. There are future plans to send a group of astronauts to Mars, but that date has not been set yet.

Astronauts study many things in space - including the Earth!
earth from space

Why Are Astronauts Important?

Astronauts can be the eyes and ears for us on Earth to share information about the happenings in outer space. By sending astronauts to other planets or traveling on a space ship, their experiences help scientists in their studies of the universe.

Astronauts give a sense of pride to their country. For example, the United States and Russia each wanted to beat the other when it came to anything having to do with outer space. This was called 'The Space Race', and it took place during the 1960s. Both countries wanted to be the first country to send a man to the moon. After American astronaut Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, he proudly flew the American flag for millions of television viewers to see.

When Neil Armstrong planted the American flag on the Moon, it was a historical event.
neil

Famous Astronauts

There have been several astronauts who have greatly contributed to space exploration. Yuri Gagarin, a member of the Soviet Air Force, was the first man to ever go into space in 1961. Buzz Aldrin was the second astronaut to ever walk on the moon when he took the trip with Neil Armstrong in 1969. Some people believe that it was actually Buzz who took the first step on the moon, but this has not been proven. Dr. Sally Ride was the first American female to make the journey to outer space when she flew aboard the Challenger in 1983. Mae Jemison, a doctor, was the first African American female to ever be sent into space, in 1992.

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