“An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth” was an out of this world journey guided by Colonel Chris Hadfield. My initial draw to this book was that it was about an experience I know little about: traveling to space. I think one of the reasons I liked the book so much was that I liked Hadfield as a person, and the book got better the more I read. For everything he accomplished, he is a humble and kind person. (I doubt other astronauts are picking trash off the streets.) The title made this book seem like it would be a self-help guide, but it wasn’t, well, not exactly. Hadfield shares his journey of how his dream to be an astronaut motivated him to make decisions that would help him reach his goal. He discusses the traits that he feels assisted him excel in the space program and encourages the reader to develop these traits as well. Overall, this is a feel good book written by an incredible man.
Hadfield explains the tremendous amount of planning that goes into a trip to space, yet somehow there is always a situation that no one expected. The crews train constantly and attempt to anticipate every imaginable situation through simulations or sims. This training is watched by many people, all of whom give tough criticism to the astronauts openly. I was really impressed with the team approach that the astronauts have. They see each mission as a team effort because each astronaut relies so heavily upon the others. As a result, there are substantial benefits to helping other team members become better astronauts through the sims. I wish the legal profession had this same approach. Hadfield made just about everything space related seem interesting. There were so many crazy experiences Hadfield had, such as using a Swiss army knife to open the hatch door while in space, performing spontaneous repairs to stop a leak, and being blinded while on a space walk. I had never really thought about the physical impacts of being in space and was shocked to learn how quickly the body adapts to zero gravity. After spending 5 months in space, Hadfield’s body had grown over an inch, and he had virtually forgotten how to walk, pump blood to his head, and move his muscles for extended periods of time.
I could go on and on about this book, and the larger messages that Hadfield shares. I’ve already passed this book on and highly recommend it!