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Difference Between Astronaut and Cosmonaut

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The main difference between an astronaut and a cosmonaut is that cosmonauts are those who have been trained and qualified to operate in space by the Russian Space Agency, while astronauts are people who have been trained and certified to work in space by NASA, CSA, ESA, and JAXA.

Astronaut and cosmonaut are words used in the space travel program. In terms of their profession, they virtually have the same connotation, although there are some fundamental differences.

What is an Astronaut?

Buzz Aldrin, an American Astronaut

An astronaut is someone who has gone through extensive training to go into space. Astronaut is derived from the Greek words meaning "star" and "sailor." In terms of geography, an astronaut is a person who travels into space and is from the United States, Canada, Japan, or Europe.

A master's degree in any stem subject, such as physical science, biological science, engineering, or other related fields, is required to become an astronaut. Professional experience of at least two years is required, as is jet aircraft pilot experience of at least 1,000 hours. The candidate must pass or qualify for NASA's astronaut physical test.

What is a Cosmonaut?

Mikhail Kornienko, a Russian Cosmonaut

A cosmonaut is a person who has been trained and certified to operate in space by the Russian Space Agency. Simply put, she or he is a Russian who goes into space. To become a cosmonaut, a person must be a Russian citizen and proficient in English and Russian. The individual's age should not exceed 35 years. He or she should not have any major health issues and should have at least five years of relevant experience.

Differences Between Astronaut and Cosmonaut

Criteria for Selection

To become an astronaut or a cosmonaut, you must put forth much effort. You should have a well-thought-out strategy that involves education and experience, getting in shape, passing the application procedure, and completing the training program.

Astronaut requirements:

You must be a US citizen by birth or dual citizenship. You must hold a degree from an approved learning institution in one of the following fields: engineering, computer science, sciences, or mathematics. Before joining a bigger space crew, you need to finish the training curriculum. Training might last 10 months or longer. Before joining others, you must first train for your unique job. There are no age restrictions. However, the majority of candidates are 37 years old on average.

Cosmonaut requirements:

You should be a legal Russian citizen. You should not be older than 35 years old at the time of application. You should have a degree from a reputable institution in engineering or scientific aviation specialization. The Russian Space Agency always suggests that you have prior expertise in the aviation, rocket, and space sectors.

Selection Process

NASA's recruiting staff members search for people with exceptional characteristics. In 2017, only 120 persons were chosen from a pool of 18300 applicants. This number was further reduced to 14 persons. You must be able to satisfy the numerous physical demands, and your medical records will be reviewed.

Applicants for cosmonaut positions must go through four steps. First, candidates are subjected to an initial screening followed by a thorough medical examination. The Russian Space Agency's recruiting staff then evaluates each applicant's qualifications before administering the different examinations required to become a competent cosmonaut.

Training Program

NASA selectees are sent to the Johnson Space Center for extensive training. Typically, training takes at least two years. You will be expected to complete classroom-based training that will educate you about space equipment and provide knowledge on the International Space Station. A survival training curriculum will be incorporated as well. This is required in the event of an emergency.

Candidates for cosmonauts are sent to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Moscow, Russia, to study. Candidates study to fly in Mig-29 zero-G flight simulators and simulate spacewalks in Sokol and Orlan spacesuits. Aside from training, cosmonauts should learn about different medical procedures and undergo intrapersonal communication lessons.

Space Suits

One of the most perilous areas to investigate is space. To live in space, astronauts and cosmonauts need a suit that protects their bodies from heat, cold, radiation and provides oxygen.

Astronaut Space Suit

  • Name: Baseline EMU
  • Function: orbital extra-vehicular activity
  • Operating pressure: 4.5 psi
  • Primary life support: 8 hours

Cosmonaut Space Suit

  • Name: Orlan-MKS
  • Function: Extra-vehicular activity
  • Operating pressure: 5.8 psi
  • Primary life support: 7 hours

Name Origin and Job Titles

Russian scientists coined the term "cosmonaut." It is derived from the Greek words "cosmo" and "naut." When these phrases are used together, a cosmonaut is simply referred to as a universe sailor. American scientists coined the term "astronaut." It also derives from two Greek words: "Astro" for stars and "naut" for a sailor. In basic words, known as star sailors.

Comparison Chart: Astronaut Vs Cosmonaut

MeaningStar sailorUniverse sailor
TrainingSpace agencies situated in the United States train astronautsRussia-based space agencies train cosmonauts
OriginIt consists of people from Canada, Europe, Japan, and the United StatesIt solely involves Russian citizens
AgeThe average age of 37 yearsShould not be more than 35 years
Space Suit life support8 hours7 hours


What Exactly Is Astronaut Training?

Following astronaut selection, astronauts are trained at NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Its astronauts-in-training are known as "AsCans," an abbreviation for "astronaut candidates," and they train for two years.

Has Anyone Been Pregnant In Space?

Pregnancy in space is prohibited under NASA protocol. Female astronaut is tested 10 days regularly before a flight. Also, sex in space is strictly forbidden. There have been no confirmed cases of coitus yet, but there has been some speculation.

How Much Does A NASA Astronaut Work From Home Make?

The average hourly wage for a Work From Home NASA Astronaut in the United States is $29.44 per hour as of Oct 2022.


Many variables influence the distinction, including nationality, training, and spacecraft. In general, an astronaut is someone who has flown in space on a mission funded by the United States government, while a cosmonaut is someone who has flown in space on a mission funded by the Russian government.

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About the Author: Nicolas Seignette

Nicolas Seignette, who holds a scientific baccalaureate, began his studies in mathematics and computer science applied to human and social sciences (MIASHS). He then continued his university studies with a DEUST WMI (Webmaster and Internet professions) at the University of Limoges before finishing his course with a professional license specialized in the IT professions. On 10Differences, he is in charge of the research and the writing of the articles concerning technology, sciences and mathematics.
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