Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Real Right Stuff: Spaceman by Mike Massimino

Space, astronauts, and the exploration of outer space fired my childhood imagination.

In junior high I filled scrapbooks with clippings of everything NASA was doing. I had a poster of the Solar System on my wall. I dad's telescope into the back yard to gaze at the moon.

In 1969 I wrote a poem about Apollo 11 and men walking on the moon. And much later I created my quilt, When Dreams Came True, to celebrate the men and their achievement. I used photos from NASA for the fused applique images.

Showing my quilt When Dreams Came True
When Dreams Came True
detail When Dreams Came True

Detail from When Dreams Came True, the astronauts
A Goodreads friend raved about Spaceman, saying it brought back all her girlish dreams, and I eagerly requested Mike Massimino's memoir when I saw it on Blogging for Books.

What a joy to read! Massimino has achieved remarkable heights in his career, yet he comes across like a regular guy who just happened to get a few lucky breaks thanks to the efforts of others.

"We have this idea in America of the self-made man. We love to celebrate individual achievement...I think the self-made man is a myth....I can honestly say that I've never achieved anything on my own...I owe the people around me---people who pushed me to be the best version of myself."
Massimino's personality just shines through the book. Concerning his flight training on the T-38, he recalls The Right Stuff astronauts and the glamorous lifestyle they led, "astronauts racing Corvette convertibles across the California desert" and laughs at himself "rocking out in our Nissan Quest mini-van."

Team work, he insists, is the real 'right stuff,' trust, character, and service, being there for each other as part of a small, select family. When Massimino's dad faced a health crisis, everyone pitched in to support him. When his dad needed blood, they donated. When he needed plasma, they donated.

"I'd only been an astronaut for a year...I knew that teamwork and camaraderie were an important part of it, but I didn't understand what that really meant until my father got sick."
A self-avowed people person, a man who never backed down from a challenge, these attributes brought him to be chosen to be on a Hubble mission team. The highlight of his career was to switch out a Hubble array, 350 miles above the earth. Viewing Earth from space was a transformative experience, bringing an epiphany that altered his perception of life and the world.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to read this book. You do need to love an inspiring story told by a man whose love for his work, his family, and his friends shines through every page.

I received a free book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Mike Massimino
Crown Books
$28 hard cover
ISBN: 978-1-101-90354-4

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