Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe (Crown Archetype)
Mike Massimino’s childhood fascination with space was born the day Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, but his journey to actually becoming an astronaut was as unlikely as it is compelling. He grew up in a blue-collar Long Island town where going to college was a big deal; going to space was unthinkable. He was six-foot- three, with poor eyesight and a fear of heights, and (he’ll be the first to tell you) never the best athlete or smartest kid in the class. Even after he made it through Columbia and MIT, he was rejected three times by NASA before he finally made the cut. With his new book, Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe, Massimino has written an inspiring ode to following your dreams and finding your place in this world—or out of it.
Massimino is a celebrity astronaut, the closest thing his generation has to an Armstrong or a John Glenn. He has 1.3 million Twitter followers, and has appeared on The Big Bang Theory, The Late Show with David Letterman, and more. In Spaceman, he puts the reader in the flightsuit, catapults them into space, and shows them the ins and outs of life in microgravity. With humor, humility, and intelligence, Massimino narrates the arduous process of becoming an astronaut – from training on T-38 jets to preparing, physically and mentally, for the journey to the cosmos. He recounts the surreal beauty of his first spacewalk with awe and childlike wonder, and candidly describes the fascinating complexity (and paralyzing anxiety) of making an emergency repair to the Hubble Space Telescope. How do you remove one-hundred- and-eleven very tiny screws from a machine that was never designed to be fixed, in space, all while worrying if you’re about to slip up and inadvertently ruin humankind’s chance discover life on other planets?
Massimino praises the innovation and camaraderie of the space program, revealing the affable nature that helped get him picked for missions in the first place (“Very few jerks have ever been to space,” he jokes). He writes movingly about the tragedy of losing friends in the Columbia shuttle accident, and about his enduring love for the Hubble, which he and his fellow astronauts would be tasked with saving on his final mission. His voice is magnetic and singular, an ordinary guy who made it into one of the most elite clubs in the world – those who have left the planet and lived to tell about it. Spaceman invites us into a rare, wonderful world where the nerdiest science meets the most thrilling adventure, and pulls back the curtain on just what having “the right stuff” really means.
Praise for Spaceman
“Every generation of astronauts needs a storyteller—a person with wit, humor, and passion who has lived our collective dreams of space exploration and returned to tell us all about it. Mike Massimino is that person. He's that Astronaut. And this is his story.”—Neil deGrasse Tyson
“Mike Massimino writes about space with an astronaut’s eye and an engineer's precision. You'll be impressed with his journey and his perspective on where a well-developed space program can take us in the future.”—Senator John Glenn
“Inspired by moonwalkers, Mike grew up, became an astronaut, and fixed the Hubble Space Telescope, all while remaining some kinda’ humble. You can’t help but follow him from Long Island to the bottom of the spacewalk practice pool, then 350 miles up and back. He’s a spaceman through and through; he tells how hard work can take you out of this world.”—Bill Nye, the Science Guy, CEO of the Planetary Society
“Like Mike Massimino, I was a kid in the 1960s who dreamed of being an astronaut. But I get seasick in a row boat, so turned to math. Massimino made it to space. And his incredible journeys, filled with grit, courage, suspense and thrills, are told with such candor and delight, that for a brief moment I felt I’d finally made it to space too. Read this book and be inspired to reach for the impossible.”—Brian Greene, Columbia University, author of The Fabric of the Cosmos
“A smooth combination of personal history and immersive storytelling…Massimino makes having "the right stuff" both breathtaking and formidable. A vivid, engrossing, and enthusiastically written memoir of aeronautic ambition.”—Kirkus Reviews, STARRED review
“Readers will be delighted and moved by retired astronaut Massimino’s almost childlike wonder and enthusiasm, coupled with his humility, as he recounts the magnificence of space, the camaraderie of NASA in good times and bad, and a genuine gratitude for his good fortune…This is an engaging and uplifting memoir that’s sure to give readers a deeper appreciation for the U.S. space program and inspire some future astronauts.”—Publishers Weekly
Mike Massimino served as an astronaut with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration from 1996 to 2014. He is the veteran of two NASA space flights, STS-109 aboard Space Shuttle Columbia in March 2002 and STS-125 aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis in May 2009. A graduate of Columbia University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Massimino currently lives in New York City.