An Astronaut's Guide To Life On Earth

July 25, 2021


🚀 Summary

Chris Hadfield decided to become an astronaut after watching the Apollo moon landing with his family on Stag Island, Ontario, when he was nine years old, and it was impossible for Canadians to be astronauts. In 2013, he served as Commander of the International Space Station orbiting the Earth during a five-month mission. Fulfilling this lifelong dream required intense focus, natural ability and a singular commitment to “thinking like an astronaut.” In An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, Chris gives us a rare insider’s perspective on just what that kind of thinking involves, and how earthbound humans can use it to achieve success and happiness in their lives.

Astronaut training turns popular wisdom about how to be successful on its head. Instead of visualizing victory, astronauts prepare for the worst; always sweat the small stuff; and do care what others think. Chris shows how this unique education comes into play with dramatic anecdotes about going blind during a spacewalk, getting rid of a live snake while piloting a plane, and docking with space station Mir when laser tracking systems fail at the critical moment. Along the way, he shares exhilarating experiences, and challenges, from his 144 days on the ISS, and provides an unforgettable answer to his most-asked question: What’s it really like in outer space?

Written with humour, humility and an optimism for the future of space exploration, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth is not just the inspiring story of one man’s journey to the ISS, but the opportunity for readers to step into his space-boots and think like an astronaut—and renew their commitment to pursuing their own dreams, big or small.

🎨 Impressions

I really enjoyed this audiobook, narrated by the author himself. It was entertaining and easy-listening so I feel like I’ll listen to it again. Listening to Hadfield is like listening to stories from your Uncle if he were an astronaut. Despite his achievements he comes across as rather humble. His anecdotes are insightful and entertaining. The story starts out with a boy who has a dream, his hard work and sacrifice. What it took for his dream to come true, and reflections on his long and successful career.

What I loved about this book was Hadfield’s mindset- his approach to life and career. As a boy he dreamt of becoming an astronaut and to achieve that dream he does pretty much everything he can. Even at a time when Canada didn’t have a space program young Hadfield was determined to make the choices that would propel him closer to his dream. He knows he always has a choice, “the choice to eat his vegetables or potato chips” or “the choice to stay up late or wake up early and read a book”. Guiding all his decisions is one question “what would an astronaut do?“. I love young Hadfield’s simple philosophy.

Hadfeild talks about the sacrifices that his family -particularly his wife- endured. Her role must not have been easy, and she came across as an unsung hero. In each chapter Hadfield shares one of the lessons he learned. In particular, I resonated with the lessons in these chapters- ‘aim to be a zero’, ‘have an attitude’ and ‘sweat the small stuff’.

A point he drove something home for me that really resonated, my goal is something that I may never achieve. Most astronauts who train never fly in space, and so you’d ask yourself: why bother? Hadfield explains that you must find joy in the training, in the work, in the preparation, so that even if your dream doesn’t come true, you still enjoyed every moment of its pursuit and have something to be proud of at the end.

I loved this book and it was time well spent. Even if you’ve no interest in space- perhaps especially if you don’t- you should read this book.

🕵 How I Discovered It

Goodreads. Plus who doesn’t love outer space?

✍️ My Favorite Quotes

“To me, it’s simple: if you’ve got the time, use it to get ready. What else could you possibly have to do that’s more important? Yes, maybe you’ll learn how to do a few things you’ll never wind up actually needing to do, but that’s a much better problem to have than needing to do something and having no clue where to start…” “That’s how I approach just about everything. I spend my life getting ready to play “Rocket Man.” I picture the most demanding challenge; I visualize what I would need to know how to do to meet it; then I practice until I reach a level of competence where I’m comfortable that I’ll be able to perform. It’s what I’ve always done, ever since I decided I wanted to be an astronaut in 1969, and that conscious, methodical approach to preparation is the main reason I got to Houston. I never stopped getting ready. Just in case.”

“Early success is a terrible teacher. You’re essentially being rewarded for a lack of preparation, so when you find yourself in a situation where you must prepare, you can’t do it. You don’t know how. The environment is also highly competitive, without the competition ever being explicitly acknowledged. Astronaut Candidates (ASCANs, pronounced exactly as you might imagine) are being evaluated and compared on everything they do - everything - and space flight assignments are based on how well they perform. So the demands are bottomless.”

“Still, I also know that most people, including me, tend to applaud the wrong things: the showy, dramatic record-setting sprint rather than the years of dogged preparation or the unwavering grace displayed during a string of losses. Applause, then, never bore much relation to the reality of my life as an astronaut, which was not all about, or even mostly about, flying around in space.”

Made with lots of ♥️ and