“Star Wars” Day is not the only space based day in the beginning of May. On May 5, 1961 – Alan B. Shepard Jr. became the first American to fly through space aboard the Freedom 7 Mercury capsule. To commemorate this achievement, May 5th became National Astronaut Day! Additionally, today is the first Friday in May – making it International Space Day! Lockheed Martin started National Space Day in 1997 to promote STEM careers to young people. It grew to be so popular that it became an international event!
Here are some fun tidbits about Astronauts in celebration of a very spacey week:
- The word astronaut comes from the Greek words Aston (star) and Nautes (sailor). So, an astronaut is literally a star sailor!
- 586 people have been in orbit around Earth!
- Due to minimal gravity, astronauts can grow up to 3% taller while in space. After a few months back on Earth, they return to their normal height.
- Astronauts age slower in space! While he was in space, Astronaut Scott Kelly aged at a slightly slower rate than his twin brother Mark back on Earth.
- June 18, 1983 – Sally Ride became the first American woman in space.
- It takes the ISS about 90 minutes to orbit the Earth. That means astronauts see a sunrise or a sunset roughly every 45 minutes. That’s 16 sunrises and 16 sunsets a day!
- In 1985, Ellison S. Onizuka was the first Asian-American to go to space. He was a mission specialist aboard Space Shuttle Discover’s STS-51C mission.
Want to learn more about celebrating Astronauts and Space? Check out the links below!