What Can We Learn From An Astronaut? (Book Review)


Read any good books this summer?  I have (cover photo above), and wanted to share a little ‘Astronaut Wisdom’ .

What’s that, you say?  You think Astronaut-speak is above your IQ level?  So did I, but when I heard about this book I couldn’t resist taking a peak inside their upside down world, and was so glad when I took that “EVA leap”, pun intended.

EVA=extra vehicle activity, aka space walk, which is what it felt like I was on while reading this excellent exposé on what it takes to become an astronaut and walk the walk that most of us only dream about.  In it, Colonel Chris Hadfield (www.chrishadfield.com) , one of the most seasoned and accomplished astronauts in the world, also takes us on the journey with him to explain what it feels like during lift-off and beyond.

RE lift off, here’s the countdown:

“. . . Six seconds to go, and at that moment there’s an enormous, violent vibration and rattle.  It feels as though we’re being shaken in a huge dog’s jaws, then seized by its giant, unseen master and hurled straight up into the sky, away from earth.  It feels like magic, like winning, like a dream.  It also feels as though a huge truck going at top speed just smashed into the side of us. . .”

How’s that for taking you into the action with him?  Now do you get the picture of what it feels like to sit inside a 4.5-megaton bomb loaded with explosive fuel as it prepares to launch?  Apparently it doesn’t actually feel like that elegant, easy-breezy, smooth-flowing glider that we see projected in the newscasts.

And, while that’s not the only myth Col. Hadfield will bust as you read along during his space odysseys, the point of this book is, well again, best said in his own words:

“. . . the reality of my life as an astronaut, which was not all about, or even mostly about, flying around in space.  It was really about making the most of my time here on Earth. . . when you’re the author of your own fate, you don’t really want to write a tragedy.”

Yeah.  What he said.

Ironically, I’ve never even aspired to be an astronaut, although after reading this entertaining and thought provoking narrative, I feel I’ve moved a little closer to thinking like one.

So if you’re searching for a good mind-bender-read that will take you out of your normal comfort zone, pick up this book and explore some space.

Oh, and good news for you non-book-readers out there.  This just in:  ABC has announced that they’ve picked up rights to film a pilot for a proposed TV series based on this book.  www.chrishadfieldsmemoirbecomesabcsitcom.com   Not sure exactly how they’ll cover the explanations about going to the bathroom in space (see pages 209-10 for graphic details), but then risky ‘bumps’ in the script have never posed a problem for Hollywood before, right?

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