9
$\begingroup$

One kind of 'popular science' fun facts that is very popular is to show how many of the individuals belonging to a notable group of people that are left handed, often showing a large disproportionally from the rest of the population. (example with Apollo astronauts, but that is a small sample size) This has been asked about presidents and Nobel prize winners etc., But are there any handedness skewing regarding astronauts too? This discussion suggest such a correlation.

As far as I can see, handedness may have a slight impact on the design of control panels and equipment with chiral properties, like scissors. (In the later case calling for a more neutral design in order to maintain uniform productivity.)

Buzz Aldrin in space suit

Buzz Aldrin, left handed

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Do you count as astronaut any person who has been in space? Or do you exclude people like for example mission specialists? $\endgroup$ – a CVn Feb 17 '16 at 12:29
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling "person who has been in space" makes most sense, but any statistics about a subcategory, like pilots would also be very interesting. (or left-handed people by nationality, gender, program or education by that matter). $\endgroup$ – Hohmannfan Feb 17 '16 at 13:11
  • $\begingroup$ I would suggest we use the definition "person who has been in orbit", unless you want to count sub-orbital flights. $\endgroup$ – Rikki-Tikki-Tavi Feb 17 '16 at 16:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Rikki-Tikki-Tavi The definitions does not really matter, sub-orbital people are fine too, but feel free to exclude them. $\endgroup$ – Hohmannfan Feb 17 '16 at 16:07
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It's going to be hard to answer this as many left handed people were forced to be right handers by schools and social pressure. Now that the stigma has gone away we are seeing a higher proportion of lefties out there. $\endgroup$ – GdD Feb 18 '16 at 9:07
4
$\begingroup$

It's hard to get a comprehensive statistic of all astronauts, but 1 in 4 of the early US astronauts (Mercury- Apollo) were left handed, including the following:

  • Buzz Aldrin
  • Dick Gordon
  • Charlie Duke
  • Jim Lovell
  • Wally Schirra
  • Ed Mitchell

I can't find a reliable statistic beyond the Apollo era, but I suspect that percentage has gone down. Also note that about 10% of the population is left handed, so the 25% of this era is unusual. From what I can tell, that percentage for more modern astronauts is higher than 10%, but lower than 25%.

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.