On April 9, 1959, NASA announced the selection of America's first seven astronauts: Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard and Donald Slayton. These seven men, were selected to take part in Project Mercury, America’s first manned space program. To honor these historic Americans, we've put together the following trivia questions...
Who Was the First Woman in Space? If you answered Sally Ride, sorry to say that's incorrect. While Sally was the first American female astronaut to leave our atmosphere, she was not the first in the world. That prestigious title belongs to Valentina Tereshkova, a Russian "cosmonaut" (the Russian name for astronauts) who spent 71 hours in space in 1964. Just as Russia beat us to the punch with launching Sputnik in 1957, the USSR won this "space race," too. Sally Ride didn't take off on Challenger until 1983—a whopping 19 years after Tereshkova orbited Earth 48 times.
Who Were the Oldest and Youngest NASA Astronauts to Go to Space? Sally Ride was not only the first American woman in space—but she's also the youngest astronaut to go to space in NASA's history. While Russian cosmonaut, Gherman Titov, is technically the youngest person to ever leave our atmosphere (he was 25 when he became the second person ever to orbit Earth in 1961), Ride's voyage at the age of 32 aboard space shuttle Challenger made history in more ways than one. When it comes to the oldest astronaut, that title unequivocally goes to a former member of the "Mercury 7," John Glenn. In 1998, after a successful career as an astronaut-turned-Ohio-senator, Glenn became the oldest person in the world to go to space at 77 years-old.
What Was the First Animal in Space? Technically, the answer is fruit flies. In 1947, US scientists launched a V-2 rocket 68 miles into the atmosphere to test the effects of radiation exposure at high altitudes (the fruit flies survived). Even though this was technically a "space" mission, the first animal to actually orbit Earth was a Russian dog named Laika. Laika was aboard Sputnik 2 when it launched in 1957. Unfortunately, the pup died during the flight. Since then, monkeys, dogs, cats, chimpanzees, mice, rats, frogs, spiders, and even a tortoise have made it aboard a spacecraft.
Who Was the First "Space Tourist"? With less than a century of space travel under our belts and a continued high-risk of mission failure, it's hard to believe there's such a thing as "space tourism." But, the truth is, if you have enough money, you can follow in the footsteps of Dennis Tito—an American businessman who in 2001, became the first person to pay his own way aboard the International Space Station. Tito spent a reported $20 million to enjoy a six-day vacation with the most "out-of-this-world" views you could possibly imagine.