The word astronaut means "star sailor" in Latin. It's a good description
of this career. Astronauts are the elite few trained to travel outside the
Earth's atmosphere on space shuttle missions.
There are three types of astronauts: pilots, mission specialists and payload
Pilots are responsible for flight control and overall command of
the shuttle. They must have logged at least 1,000 hours of flight time in
command of a jet aircraft. Almost all astronaut pilots have served in the
Mission specialists are in charge of organizing shuttle operations,
such as crew activity planning and food, as well as experiment and payload
operations. They also perform extravehicular activities (work performed in
space outside a spacecraft).
Payload specialists are trained to conduct experiments during a
mission. The payload refers to the equipment needed for the experiments.
Long hours are typical and time spent away from home can be hard on family
Travel and work in space