cover image How to Astronaut: An Insider’s Guide to Leaving Earth

How to Astronaut: An Insider’s Guide to Leaving Earth

Terry Virts. Workman, $27.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-523-50961-4

Former NASA astronaut Virts (View from Above) offers a mixture of science and adventure in this lively firsthand guide to space travel. Virts’s book consists of 51 entertaining essays, divided into sections on training, launch, orbit, spacewalking, deep space, and reentry. Though topics are presented roughly in the order in which a trainee astronaut would encounter them, readers can dive in and read at will; there’s something intriguing to be learned on practically every page. Training includes rides on the infamous “Vomit Comet” aircraft used to simulate weightlessness, taking language classes in order to communicate with one’s Russian colleagues aboard the International Space Station, and learning zero-g pet care for the live animals used in (humane) experiments aboard the station. Virts covers day-to-day aspects of adjusting to life in space, including putting on a spacesuit, dealing with nature’s call, and learning to live without gravity. He also discusses the grim details of a death in space, the what-if scenario of getting stranded on the moon, and why one would need to destroy one’s launch vehicle if it goes dangerously off-course. This book captures the details of an extraordinary job, and turns even the mundane aspects of space travel into something fascinating. Agent: Geoffrey Jennings, Geoffrey Jennings Literary. (Aug.)