National Astronaut Day

Observed on the 5th of May every year, National Astronaut Day is a commemorative holiday that recognizes the achievements of astronauts and celebrates them for being the heroes that they are. Another purpose of this holiday is to encourage people to reach for the stars and to inspire young people to become the astronauts of tomorrow. It’s easy to see that this is a holiday that most people will want to observe, especially schools and the parents of young children.

The History of National Astronaut Day

National Astronaut Day was started by Uniphi Space Agency on May 5, 2016. This date was chosen because the first U.S. human spaceflight occurred on May 5, 1961, piloted by astronaut Alan Shepard. The holiday has been observed ever since.

The History of Space Flight

Although we lack the space to cover the history of space flight in detail, we would like to cover the basics of human space flight. Hopefully, this will encourage anyone reading this to look up further information on space flight and reach for the stars themselves.

During WWII, Nazi Germany recognized that rockets could be used as weapons and then proved it by attacking London using 200-mile range V-2 missiles. These missiles arched approximately 60 miles high above the English Channel and had a velocity of over 3,500 MPH. After Nazi Germany was defeated at the end of WWII, both the U.S. and the Soviet Union started their own missile programs to investigate their potential use for spaceflight.

On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite. The following year, the U.S. launched its first satellite, Explorer I, on January 31, 1958. On April 12, 1961, Soviet Lt. Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit Earth. On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard became the first American to fly into space. And on February 20, 1962, John Glenn would become the first American to orbit the Earth.

Facts About Astronauts & Spaceflight

We’ve uncovered some out-of-this-world facts about astronauts and spaceflight. The following are facts that we thought were just too good to keep to ourselves.

  • The word astronaut comes from two Greek words: “Astron” (which means star) and “Nautes” (which means sailor). Therefore, astronaut means “star sailor.”
  • Buzz Aldrin was the second person to walk on the moon.
  • Gus Grissom was the second American to travel to space on the Liberty Bell 7.
  • Sally Ride was the first American woman in space.
  • ISS is an acronym for International Space Station.
  • Stardust was the first spacecraft to return a cometary sample from outside the orbit of Earth.

Observing National Astronaut Day

Anyone who wants to observe this holiday can do so by learning about the history of space flight or helping to inspire young men and women to reach for the stars. And while you’re sharing your excitement for this holiday, be sure to use the hashtags #NationalAstronautDay or #WeBelieveInAstronauts on your social media accounts.

When is it?
This year (2024)
May 5 Sunday
Next year (2025)
May 5 Monday
Last year (2023)
May 5 Friday
Nature & Environment, Work & Occupation