Book review: An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth

hadfield book
This is one of those books that ordinarily I would ask Mr. RFH for and wait patiently until my birthday or Christmas rolled around. However, two things happened – first, the NASA shop advertised that they were ordering autographed copies, and second, I kept seeing mentions of this book on Facebook and Twitter until I didn’t feel like being patient any more. Besides, I apparently like writing about Chris Hadfield.

“An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything” is well-worth the read. There’s a lot of inside-NASA bits that even I didn’t know, mainly because I deal with the outer shell of the spacecraft, not the humans living inside. Hadfield writes very well about the wonder of space, everything between the seriousness of something always trying to kill you and the humor in being able to pee upside down. You have to be impressed with a 9-year-old kid who decides he wants to be an astronaut 15 years before there were *any* Canadian astronauts and not only maps out how to get there but enjoys the journey along the way. I think that’s the part that impressed me the most, that Hadfield has accomplished so much, yet he isn’t sitting on his duff, saying “Now what?” There’s always something over the horizon to go see.

I knew the difference between Shuttle flights and ISS expeditions, in that the Shuttle flight is only two weeks, so it’s full-force, all-out effort sprinting, while a six-month expedition is a marathon, and you have to pace yourself or you’ll never make it. What I didn’t think about was how you can get past a personality difference if you only have to live with that person for a short time versus really needing a laidback, easygoing personality for a long time in space. I’m still trying to figure out who was the astronaut with the extremely abrasive personality, who felt in order to promote himself, he had to put down everyone around him. Hadfield ponders about what kind of impression he’s left behind. He also wrote about specialists on the Shuttle versus the breadth of knowledge and experience needed for ISS, everything from piloting the Soyuz to spacewalking to tending numerous experiments to repairing the toilet. I like the part about the satisfaction of a job well-done, even if you are the only one who knows. Also, “be a zero” (you’ll have to read the book to understand.)

If you do decide to get this book, please do XBrad a favor and use his Amazon link up there for buying it. Thank you.

2 thoughts on “Book review: An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth”

  1. Thanks for the recommendation. My favorite book about space and astronauts, Carrying the Fire by Michael Collins, is getting a tad dated.

  2. It looks as though that would be a great read. H-m-m-m, “be a zero” sounds a lot like “head down, butt up, shut up” as it smacks of doing your duty for the sake of doing your duty and well. No self serving goals. Truly admirable.

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