Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Guide to Life in Space from Tim Peake

It is amazing to consider that since 1961 when Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space that only 545 people have reached Earth's orbit. Tim Peake is one, having been on the International Space Station (ISS) in 2015. His book Ask an Astronaut: My Guide to Life in Space is as close as most of us will get to knowing what it is like.

When Tom Wolfe wrote The Right Stuff, he was talking about the first American astronauts who had come up from the ranks of pilots. Today's astronauts need very specific skills, including being good at language, since being in the ISS requires knowing Russian.

"NASA astronaut and ISS commander Scott Kelly told me that it is only the first ten years of studying Russian that are difficult."

The most important trait needed to be an astronaut is character and drive. Mike Massimino also wrote about that in his memoir Spaceman.

Peake wrote this book to answer the questions people ask all the time about being space. Chapters include Launch, Training, Life and Work on the ISS, Spacewalking, Earth and Space, Return to Earth, and Looking to the Future. There are great illustrations, diagrams, and color photographs.

I can't imagine living in 'a tin can' for months. And yet this is what today's astronauts do. And sharing that space with other people.

Okay, perhaps I can imagine that but I really can't imagine spacewalking. Leaving the 'safe haven' of the ISS for a black vacuum where temperatures can go from frigid to boiling in minutes, unprotected from various flying space stuff. One wrong move and--well, watch the movie Gravity and skip the happy ending. Peake notes it is actually quite easy to fall off the space station. The danger is palpable.

All this while wearing adult 'nappies'.

But other things can go wrong, too. In 1965 a Soviet astronaut was in space when his suit ballooned and stiffened. His hands and feet slipped from their places, and the only thing he could do was depressurize his suit. He was suffering from decompression sickness when, with much struggling, he entered the airlock.

Peake was part of a team to repair the ISS solar panel, restoring its electric power. Being in space gave him "the sensation of being a microscopic spectator in an immeasurably vast universe. It was, at the same time, the most astonishing and humbling experience of my life."

This is a great book for inquisitive minds, from the young to us older folk who grew up with the Space Race.

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Ask an Astronaut: My Guide to Life in Space
by Tim Peake
Little, Brown and Company
Hardcover $26.00
ISBN: 9780316512787
Publication Date: October 17, 2017

See the book trailor at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PR-PdEqD82s

from the publisher:
What happens when you sneeze in space? Was it fun to do a space walk? How squashed were you in the capsule on the way back? What were your feelings as you looked down on Earth for the first time? Were you ever scared? Where to next-the Moon, Mars, or beyond? 
Based on his historic mission to the International Space Station, Ask an Astronaut is Tim Peake's guide to life in space, and his answers to the thousands of questions he has been asked since his return to Earth. With explanations ranging from the mundane--how do you wash your clothes or go to the bathroom while in orbit?--to the profound-do humans have a duty to explore the unknown?--all written in Tim's characteristically warm style, Tim shares his thoughts on every aspect of space exploration.  
From training for the mission to launch, to his historic spacewalk, to re-entry, he reveals for readers of all ages the cutting-edge science behind his groundbreaking experiments, and the wonders of daily life on board the International Space Station. 
We invite the public to join us in submitting new questions using the hashtag #askanastronaut, and the most exciting will be answered by Tim in the book, along with illustrations, diagrams, and never-before-seen photos.