Sunday, 10 November 2013

A space sensation

An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth - Chris Hadfield

I think that regular readers of my thoughts will realise that I have three main interests - reading, the theatre and manned space flight.  When two of these combine it is a real treat.

Commander Chris Hadfield was the first Canadian commander of the International Space Station during his nearly 6 months in space earlier in 2013. In that time his use of social media to share his experiences made him probably the best known astronaut since Neil Armstrong.

Just 6 months after his return to Earth, after spending the preceding 5 months in space, Hadfield has published his autobiography. I am guessing that perhaps he'd been working on it prior to flight as nothing about it feels rushed or incomplete, it is just a delight to read from cover to cover.

I've read a lot of astronaut (and cosmonaut) memoirs and this is easily in my top three.  Hadfield decided he wanted to be an astronaut in July 1969 as he watched Armstrong and Aldrin walk on the moon and set out in a very single minded fashion to make his dream come true.

However he is Canadian and despite this determination he seems unable to be nasty as he achieves his dream.he always comes across as a very nice person, Throughout the book recognises that he must have talent and ability but he remains humble and charts his mistakes clearly and gives tips for how he thinks a person should behave to get ahead and remain well liked.

The book doesn't contain too many technological details but I did learn a lot more about the other aspects of training, I also know more about going to the loo in space than I did before.  Hadfield drops tiny tidbits of gossip but never names names which just makes me want to read more, he is also far more open about his health problems before, during and after flight than I've ever known an astronaut be before.

If you only got interested in the space programme thanks to following @Cmdr_Hadfield you won't be disappointed in the book, and if like me you have a deeper interest I don't think you'll regret reading this book for moment.

Now if you'll excuse me I am off to haunt the website to see if I can meet Commander Hadfield when he is in the UK next month but I do urge you to watch his version of Space Oddity - the book tells you just how the video was made!

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