19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
How to be an astronaut without leaving your armchair.,
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This review is from: An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth (Hardcover)
If you, like me, are not one of the 536 people (November 2013) who have been into space but dreamed of being an astronaut (Poor eyesight blew it for me, at least that's what I tell myself) or wondered what it would be like to be an astronaut then this is about as close as you are going to get. Chris Hadfield gives an absorbing and detailed account of the process of becoming an astronaut and the practicalities of being in space. He tells us how he dealt with all the formidable challenges to prove himself capable of joining the elite group of men and women who are capable of moving a few billion dollars (roubles) worth of highly complex technical equipment in to orbit around our planet with just a few hundred tons of highly explosive fuel to get them there. He tells us of all the detailed preparations that each member of a vast team must make in order for each mission to be a success and he tells us of the almost unimaginable level of multi-skill each astronaut must demonstrate before they even have the possibility of space flight and how, after years of training, most candidates will never be chosen for an actual mission.
And this is the other side of the book, the reason it is called an astronauts guide to life on Earth; to try and be an astronaut is to seek to perform a task to perfection even though it is most likely that task will never be performed by you. It is the process of learning that matters. Do everything you do as well as you can because it matters. He constantly reminds us of the phrase 'sweat the small stuff' - make sure you have every last detail covered. In our everyday lives it makes a difference to whether or not something works out as well as it should, in space it could be the difference between coming home alive or ending lives in an inferno.
Chris Hadfield loves his life, check him out on YouTube if you are unsure, and I found his book to be fascinating, informative and thought provoking. Why 4 stars and not 5 ? Because it started to feel a bit like an episode of Horizon with a little too much repetition and a fair bit of 'I'm going to tell you something really interesting later on'. He does tell us a great deal but, like Horizon programmes, it could all have been said in less time.