Review: Ask an Astronaut by Tim Peake

Have you ever thought of becoming an astronaut?

Ask an Astronaut is Tim Peake’s personal guide to life in space, based on his historic Principial mission, and the thousands of questions he has been asked since his return to Earth.

How does it feel to orbit the earth ten times faster than a speeding bullet?

What’s it like to eat, sleep and go to the toilet in space?

And where to next – the moon, mars or beyond?

From training to launch, historic spacewalk to re-entry, Tim has a fascinating answer to everything you ever wanted to know. He reveals for readers of all ages the extraordinary secrets, cutting-edge science, and everyday wonders of life onboard the International Space Station. (Goodreads)

As someone who has always been drawn to, and fascinated by space, there’s no way I don’t love this book. This book is packed with fun and interesting episodes that shed a lot of light to the wonders of space and space explanations, but it also shares quite enlightening wisdom and lessons on what it takes to be an astronaut and what risk you have to bear in mind upon heading to space. I absolutely enjoyed reading this fun book and adored every single word of his.

Contrary to what I just said above, being a massive fan of NASA and space, my knowledge is quite limited prior to reading this book. Specifically speaking, what I have mostly been interested in was the Apollo projects, the grand project that brought Neil Armstrong on the Moon and the epic survival drama presented in the Apollo 13 mission. Quite frankly, I was not interested in the International Space Station as much as I was in the good old days of NASA. I picked up this book believing Tim Peake was a NASA astronaut. I didn’t even know there are so many space exploration agencies in the world! Silly me.

In that regard, this book literally opened up my eyes and piqued my curiosity; followed by a momentary shock and embarrassment from realizing Tim Peake is an ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut, this book taught me now that NASA withdrew from the Space Shuttle projects in 2011, Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft is the sole means of transportation to bring crew up to and from the ISS. For that reason, Major Peake shares a great deal of information and details on every aspect of space flight abroad Soyuz spacecraft and the ISS over Seven chapters – Launch, Training, Life and Works on the ISS, Spacewalking, Return to Earth, and Afterwords: Looking to Future.
Simply put, everything was a whole new world to me and I was kept awe-struck. I felt like being a 9 year-old when I was so obsessed with the Moon.

The episodes Mr. Peake shares with us are all so interesting and inspirational that I couldn’t suppress my curiosity to look for some videos on YouTube, just to take a peek into what the exploration and his mission looked like. That is partially the reason why it took me almost a week to finish this book; there are simply too many distractions and temptations!

Here are some of the videos that I ended up googling and watching:

The wonders of this book never ends there – what I really liked about this book is the words Mr. Peake weaves in this book.
As this book is comprised of Q&As – sort of like an end product of a project #Askanastronaut on social media – this book is told in a very conversational manner and his wording in general is relatively easy to understand. When it comes to answering technical questions such as astrophysics and gravity and such (which I don’t know anything about), I must admit that there were parts where I still couldn’t get exactly what he meant, but I totally appreciate his efforts to break it down as much as possible and walk us through by giving some examples.

In addition to that, I was fascinated and inspired by the messages Mr. Peake shares with us.
Here’s one of my favorite quotes from this book:

As we shall see, academic requirements only gets you so far. It’s your drive, your enthusiasm, and, above all, your personality and character that will enable you to succeed.”

His messages and wisdom that he embedded throughout the book are all so straightforward, struck a chord with me. He had trained for 6 years prior to the 6 month mission on the ISS. As he said in the quote, he kept his drive and passion burning bright, and trained himself to prepare for any contingencies that could arise during the mission. Space explorations never come risk-free. Once you are launched into space, there are chances that you’ll never come home again. Sobering fact, but this is the risk all astronauts brace and they still forge ahead to realize their dreams and passion. This is what makes this book even more delightful!
The camaraderie he established with his crew members, and the national pride from being the first British astronaut on board the ISS…this book has got so many highlights to offer, seriously, I was either grinning from ear to ear or slightly welled-up while reading this book. His great personality and integrity definitely seeped out of the pages, coating every word!

The biggest takeaway from his book (at least for me) is my new-found interest in the ISS and the future Lunar project. He was really clever and smart in closing the book by sharing some snippets of future space explorations, now I’ve got so much to follow!

Ask an Astronaut is such a fun, entertaining read for people of all ages, highly recommended for someone who are remotely interested in space. I totally enjoyed this exhilarating, inspiring ride and I cannot wait to read more from Tim Peake! This book certainly deserve 5 pancakes from me!

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