Review of 'An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth'

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

an_astronauts_guide_to_life.jpg In “An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth”, Chris Hadfield, Canadian astronaut talks of his life and how many of the lessons he learned as an astronaut can be applied to everyday life, such as:

  • Sweat the small stuff - It is the small stuff that will kill you.
  • Work for the group not yourself - As an astronaut you have to put your ego aside and put the group and your fellow astronauts first otherwise you will not succeed.
  • Prepare for the worse - Always think about the next thing that might kill you and prepare for it.
  • Live for every moment, not just in the “big moments” - After his career as an astronaut, his life didn't stop, he continued to find meaning and kept busy.

His insights into the selection process and training are quite interesting, a world most will never know. Hadfield was lucky enough to fly in the Space Shuttle and visiting Mir but then a few years later travelling to the International Space Station (ISS) by a Russian Soyuz rocket. He was also CAPCOM (Capsule Communication) for 25 shuttle missions and considered the expert in many areas including EVA (extra-vehicular activity) and the Canadarm. So, he speaks with great authority yet maintains humility throughout yet he is also incredibly honest. Hadfield knows how lucky he was but he also is honest enough to admit to the huge effort it took for him to be selected to become an astronaut. His description of the endless studying and training makes you tired just reading about it!

The book is divided into three parts: “Pre-Launch”, “Liftoff”, and “Coming Down to Earth” with a small section of personal photos. It does tend to drag a bit in the middle but picks up quite a lot in the end as the missions get underway. Handfield really brings you into events, describing in great detail exactly what it is like on a personal level, the smells, the sensations and the feelings. There are a lot of things here that are surprising and really bring the experience to life. Yes, he does talk about using the toilet in space and, of course, the creation of his famous music video “A Space Oddity” filmed on the ISS (currently at 49 million views).

An enthralling and enlightening book that offers unique insights to the life of an astronaut yet with a grounding in home truths.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2021-08-02

Genre: Autobiography

Publisher: Random House Canada

Publication Date: 2013

ISBN: 9780345812704