What does it take to become an astronaut? Take a journey from Earth into space and beyond. Experience a rocket launch from inside the human body, and float around inside the International Space Station. Discover the perils that lurk in space as we subject 'Chad', our test astronaut, to everything that space has to throw at him.

Astronaut is recommended for ages 4 and up. Teachers interested in bringing a school group should consult the Tennessee Curriculum standards information listed below.

Astronaut currently available for school groups. To book a group reservation, call (615) 862-5177 at least two weeks in advance.

For More Information

Download the ASC Educator's Guide for Astronaut

Web sites


  • Space Exploration (DK Eyewitness Books) by Carole Stott
  • The Amazing International Space Station by Editors of Yes Mag
  • Space Shuttle: The First 20 Years -- The Astronauts' Experiences in Their Own Words by DK Publishing
Astronaut is recommended for Grades 4 and up.

TN State Science Standards

Conceptual Strands

  • BIODIVERSITY AND CHANGE Conceptual Strand 5: A rich diversity of complex organisms have developed in response to a continually changing environment.
  • THE UNIVERSE Conceptual Strand 6: The cosmos is vast and explored well enough to know its basic structure and operational principles.
  • MOTION Conceptual Strand 11: Objects move in ways that can be observed, described, predicted, and measured.
  • FORCES IN NATURE Conceptual Strand 12: Everything in the universe exerts a gravitational force on everything else; there is an interplay between magnetic fields and electrical currents.

Grade Level Expectations (GLE)

5th Grade

Physical Science
  • GLE 0507.12.1 Recognize that the Earth attracts objects without directly touching them.
  • GLE 0507.12.3 Provide examples of how forces can act at a distance.

8th Grade

Physical Science
  • GLE 0807.12.5 Recognize that gravity is the force that controls the motion of objects in the solar system.

High School

Physical Science
  • CLE 3202.4.1 Explore the difference between mass and weight.
Earth Science
  • CLE 3204.1.1 Investigate the history of space exploration.
Conceptual Physics / Physics Embedded Inquiry
  • CLE 3237.Inq.1 / CLE 3231.Inq.1 Recognize that science is a progressive endeavor that reevaluates and extends what is already accepted.
Embedded Technology & Engineering
  • CLE 3237.T/E.4 / CLE 3231.T/E.4 Describe the dynamic interplay among science, technology, and engineering within living, earth-space, and physical systems.


  1. Describe at least one challenge astronauts face living and working in space..
  2. Describe at least two of the hazards from space that threaten an astronaut.
  3. Describe at least two side effects on the human body from spending extended time in the weightless conditions of space.

Pre-visit Activities

  1. Compare the physical and academic requirements to be an astronaut in the 1960s and 70s to the requirements to become an astronaut today. What is the process for becoming an astronaut?
  2. Have students research how many humans have been in space. Look at the record for the longest and shortest stays in space. What about the youngest and oldest astronauts? How many countries have put people in space?
  3. Have students find out how many astronauts are currently on board the International Space Station (ISS). How many nations are represented?
  4. Have students investigate the ecosystem of the space station. How is the need for breathable air handled? Learn how the ISS has its own water cycle without the rain we have on earth. What about clothing and other needs?

Post-visit Activities

  1. Download the monthly star chart from our website at Encourage students to locate the constellations and any planets visible in the evening sky.
  2. Visit websites (see list) that allow students to find out when they can see the ISS passing over. Encourage the students to watch.
  3. Have students investigate the challenges of long term spaceflight. Discover how long it might take to reach Mars and return, and examine the differences between travel up to the ISS and Mars.
  4. Much of our current planetary exploration is done by robotic spacecraft. Have students research the difference between having a robot explore and a human. What does a human add to exploration?
  5. Hold a debate on the usefulness of space exploration. How can information about other planets help us on Earth? What benefits has the space program had on our everyday lives? What are the costs? Explore web sites on the Internet to learn how others feel about this issue. Each year NASA publishes a free booklet called Space Spin-offs that shows how space technology is used to improve life on Earth. Send for the booklet and share it with students.
  6. Space travel is dangerous. Have students investigate what dangerous things they do every day (travel on the interstate, for example) and compare the odds of accidents here on Earth to space travel.
  7. Investigate how many nations have the ability to send humans into space. What are the plans each have for the future of manned space flight?
  8. What other living things have been sent into space: plants, animal, insects? What have we learned about the space environment from these experiments?


  • accelerated
  • asteroid
  • atmosphere
  • buoyancy
  • cardiovascular
  • centrifuge
  • cosmic rays
  • cumbersome
  • DNA
  • electromagnetic radiation
  • flotation
  • freefall
  • g force
  • gravity
  • KC 135
  • locomotion
  • meteoroids
  • neutral
  • neutral buoyancy
  • osteoporosis
  • otoliths
  • parabola
  • pressure environment
  • replicate
  • space legs
  • tactile
  • vacuum
  • vomit comet
  • weightlessness