7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A fascinating read but not one for the faint hearted,
This review is from: Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in Space (Hardcover)
I've heard a lot of good things about all of Mary Roach's books and for my first book by this author I picked Packing for Mars because as a youngster I longed to be an astronaut when I grew up (yes really, I even planned to learn Russian).
Having read Packing for Mars I now think it was a very good thing that I changed my mind! I wanted to be an astronaut because I thought it would be exciting and I would get to discover new worlds (in fact at one point I was determined to try and be the first human on Mars) but from reading this book I've discovered that being an astronaut is 99% boredom, dirt and other excruciatingly embarrassing situations.
For example, Jim Lovell (of Apollo 13 fame) and Frank Borman spent just under 14 days in space in Gemini VII so that NASA could investigate the effects of being in space on humans for 14 days. As Roach tells it the Gemini VII capsule was so cramped that neither astronaut could move much during the time in space and neither could they wash. For 14 days. They weren't even allowed to wipe themselves with a wet cloth. I think Lovell said that this was his most difficult space mission.
And then there's the food, the toilet facilities, the problems of mixed-sex crews. Ugh.
Roach's writing is laugh out loud funny and she certainly doesn't shrink from going into lots of detail about every subject she covers. I enjoyed this book and I am definitely planning to read Roach's other books but I can't imagine reading them back to back. The 'eugh' factor would just be too high.