Why Are So Many Astronauts From Ohio?

Alexia Kontolemos
The Buckeye State? More like the Astronaut State.
The Buckeye State? More like the Astronaut State. / Vincent Besnault/The Image Bank/Getty Images (astronaut); bgblue/DigitalVision Vectors/Getty Images (Ohio)
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There must be something in the stars over Ohio

NASA counts a surprising number of astronauts—25 of them—from the past and present who hail from the Buckeye State. As the place where the Wright brothers started building their first gliders and the home state of legendary astronaut Neil Armstrong, Ohio has a long history of developing people with a passion for flight. But why does Ohio boast such a statistically large number of astronauts? 

It could be because of its connection to the Wright brothers, who developed and built their flying crafts in their home state of Ohio. While the Wright brothers may have taken their first crewed flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, it was their Ohio-grown passion for mechanics, physics, and technology that set the stage for what was to come. Many people in the state have long idolized the masters of flight, setting the stage for several Ohioans to dream of the skies and beyond. 

Ohio’s stronghold on the development of NASA astronauts may also be because of the state’s pride in its homegrown astronaut heroes, including John Glenn and Neil Armstrong.  

Glenn was the first astronaut ever to come from Ohio, and the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the Earth; he completed three orbits in 1962. Armstrong, the American hero celebrated for being the first human to set foot on the moon, was also born and raised in Ohio

A passion for what lies beyond our atmosphere alone isn’t enough—sending people into orbit requires the science behind spaceflight. The NASA legacy of astronauts from Ohio may also stem from the state’s dominance in the fields of engineering, technology, and education. The state boasts many institutions dedicated to aerospace sciences, including the NASA Glenn Research Center, a leader in aeronautics and innovative technology. 

Being an astronaut isn’t an inconceivable dream for young Ohioans. With so many astronauts paving the way for future space cadets from the state, it’s just a matter of time before more Buckeyes get to take their place among the stars. 

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