Space travel is intrinsically cool, and infinitely interesting – that’s an absolute given. It’s something I’ve harboured interest for since I was old enough to comprehend the idea of extra-planetary existence. I wouldn’t say I’m a boffins, or even reasonably well informed, but I do like to dip in and out of learning about Space.
I recently read Col. Chris Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth and thought it was worth recommending to everybody. Even if you’re not interested by the Space programme (seriously, how are you not?) the book is a really useful way to adjust your approach to dealing with everything from unclogging a toilet to career progression and surviving family life.
I read the book in the few days we spent in Houston, right before we visited Johnson Space Center (Mission Control) just in case I was lucky enough to bump into a real Astronaut – I wanted to have some sensible questions to ask. The book itself covers getting recruited for a Space programme right the way through to retiring, and all the ups and downs between. I was amazed by how well I could relate to the experiences, and a little saddened that I hadn’t developed the same determination to become an Astronaut when I was young.
My favourite bits were discussions about the nitty gritty involved in NASA simulations and evaluation – they are such a precise organisation, and I find that fascinating. Did you know that they actually have board meetings to simulate what happens during every aspect of an Astronaut’s death during a mission? Things which seem utterly unthinkable to the average person are hashed out in this book, and seem completely reasonable. It’s so fascinating guys!
Sadly, I didn’t get to meet a real life Astronaut at JSC but having read the book, I do feel like I’d had chance to chat to one and got pretty much every question I could come up with answered in great detail – Col. Chris shares a huge amount of very human things that happen in very un-human circumstances, and it’s mind blowing to learn! I can now say I know whether he used his “space nappy” during travel to the ISS, which is a fair indicator of how in depth his account is!
He’s also super passionate about educating people about the Space programme and its value. I have to admit that, even for someone with a pre-existing interest I found I finished this book with a greater sense of awe and eagerness to learn than when I started.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks for a bit more about our visit to Johnson Space Centre, which was really enlightening – we even got to see the Control room for the Moon Landing!
In the meantime, though, if you’re thinking about something to read this bank holiday then I highly recommend this!