I’ve read a lot of books, that I liked and even loved, but it is rare to find a book that just leaves you with a sense of wonder . A book that makes you feel like you’ve left your body and are totally immersed into the world the author has created. An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth definitely fits the bill.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard the name Chris Hadfield. His time in space gave us earthbound people a fun look into what the world looks like from the International Space Station (ISS). He made the first music video from space (covering none other than Bowie), he blew everyones mind when he tweeted and spoke with Captain Kirk, demonstrated space hygiene without gravity and personally blew mine with his space photography. But that’s not all there is to Commander Hadfield. The Canadian astronaut decided that he wanted to pursue his profession when he was 9-years-old and made it a reality, through a lot of hard work, a positive attitude and perseverance. He stresses hard work but having realistic goals at the same time. One of the things he said that made a lot of sense to me (as a lifetime pessimist) was that although he loves his job, he never made going to space his life’s main focus, just in case he never went.
“…Having a pessimistic view of my own prospects helped me love my job.”
The book touches on his life as a fighter and test pilot, the setbacks and losses he faced in his professional career and the hurdles he had to jump over being a Canadian pilot in a very American program. It pretty much has the makings of a lifetime movie. Reading this book opened my eyes to a lot of NASA history I hadn’t been aware of especially the tragic moments like The Columbia and The Challenger disasters. It also had me constantly pausing to look up the people he mentioned, organizations or other events. It was just one of those books that makes you want more; More information, more descriptions a picture or a video. It’s not as if I hadn’t wondered about space travel before but this book makes you hungry for every bit of information on life beyond earth. It was interesting to learn about the strain the human body goes through in space and that becoming a pilot is a step towards becoming an astronaut.
There was just so much to take in and I definitely recommend you pick up this book, you wont be disappointed. Here’s a few of some of the most memorable facts I came across while reading:
- Hadfield lived in Russia for three years to learn the language.
- Some astronauts train their entire life and never leave earth.
- Some astronauts are too tall/ short for the Soyuz (space shuttle).
- Hadfield lost almost a friend a year while working as a fighter pilot.
- Hadfield once completed a space walk while blinded.
- There wasn’t a Canadian Space Program when Hadfield first dreamed of becoming an astronaut.
- During the application process you get asked interesting questions: Hadfield was asked of he ever wanted to kill his mother.
- Astronauts wear a diaper on their Astronauts way up in case u get stuck on the launch pad.
- Astronauts get a letter from a loved one before take off.
- It can cost 20-40 million dollars to go to the ISS as a space tourist
- Hadfield is afraid of heights but that didn’t deter him from becoming a fighter pilot/astronaut.
- Pre-quarantine before take-off is mandatory so you don’t take any bugs to space.
- Peeing on the right rear tire of the bus that takes astronauts to the Soyuz is tradition. It was started by cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.
- Astronauts started wearing pressure suits during launches after The Challenger disaster.
- As you board the Soyuz each Astronaut gets a kick in the ass as they board.
- The seat in the Soyuz is custom molded to an astronauts body specifically.
- Hadfield once used a Swiss Army Knife to open a hatch in space.
- Sweat can literally slap someone in the face in space.
- You absorb more radiation in space then at sea level.
- Astronauts practice a simulation for every possible disaster that could occur and even what to do with their bodies, should they die in space.
- Being an astronaut is like going to school forever, you are constantly learning things you may not ever need.
- Every Canadian’s favourite coffee company made it up to space. Apparently Tim Hortons it was a favourite to some of the astronauts/cosmonauts.
- Hadfield wore his Leafs T-Shirt on the way back to earth, since the Toronto Maple Leafs were playing in the playoffs that day.
- You grow taller in space.
- According to Hadfield: A 54 minute tumble to earth feels like 15 explosions followed by a car crash.
- Hadfield has actually experienced (excuse my french) motherfucking snakes on a motherfucking plane! While flying a plane, a snake made it into the cockpit, thankfully his co-pilot got rid of the threat during flight.
Let me know what you thought!