Review: An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth

An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth – Life Lessons from Space by Chris Hadfield

Opening sentence: ‘The windows of a spaceship casually frame miracles.’

With the above evocative opening sentence, Chris Hadfield begins his story. He was an astronaut for 21 years and has been into space 3 times, the final time for 5 months aboard the International Space Station, starting in December 2012.

Chris first caught my eye in a YouTube video, singing Space Oddity by David Bowie. Floating around the International Space Station, he not only gave the most literal rendition of this song there has ever been, but he could also carry a tune and give the camera some great Blue Steel.

In this book, he reveals it was his son’s idea, that his son re-wrote some of the lyrics to better fit Chris’ situation and that the ultimate aim of the video was to make space travel more relatable to the masses and raise awareness for the work the space agencies and astronauts are doing.

Space travel is something that simultaneously fascinates and terrifies me, reading some of the passages gave me lurches of terror – during a spacewalk, just hanging around in the middle of the universe, Chris goes temporarily blind. There are also wonderful details about life in space, such as sleeping in zero gravity, “a dormant astronaut is an interesting sight, with both arms floating in front Frankenstein-style, hair fanned out like a mane and a facial expression of utter contentment.

I also gainedย a much better insight into the career of an astronaut – being in space is just a minor part and being prepared to work exceptionally hard, continually learn and dedicate your life to the team effort of advancing space exploration is the majority of the role.

I have so much admiration for Chris Hadfield, for his dedication, passion, what he has achieved and his unwavering positive attitude to life. It made me reassess some areas of my life and think about my own attitude and reactions. As well as being a wonderful insight into the unique job of an astronaut, it turns out this is a secret little self-help book too. And what better person to take tips from than someone who has been so focused their entire life, they’ve actually been into space.

Rating: 5/5

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