Quick Summary: In An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, you’ll have a glimpse into the life of an astronaut. The author shows you how they spend much of their time away from their loved ones while training for space missions.
There’s no denying that life in space is exciting, but an astronaut has to do hard work on Earth first. Simple tasks become difficult once in orbit, and returning home unscathed seems impossible. Let’s just say that staying on course is a challenge.
You don’t have to read the whole book if you don’t have time. This summary will provide you with an overview of everything you can learn from this book.
Without further ado, let’s get started.
Lesson 1: Whether we live in space or on Earth, preparation is essential
No matter how smart or experienced an astronaut may be, nothing can replace thorough preparation for a space mission. That’s why astronauts spend most of their training time learning and acting out scenarios they would never experience in real life.
As useful as they are for training, simulations also serve as useful wake-up calls. It’s the instructors’ job to put the astronauts through the wringer with realistic but unlikely scenarios. They train on various emergency scenarios, such as mechanical failure, system failure and explosion.
Because of the rigorous nature of the training, the astronauts develop entirely new, ingrained behaviours. They are taught to react calmly and immediately in the face of danger, rather than resorting to the “fight or flight” response. They must prioritise threats and deal with them methodically.
For this reason, astronauts plan for almost all contingencies that may arise between launch and landing. This also helps develop their ability to improvise in unforeseen circumstances.
What you learn here can be applied on Earth as well. Preparing for the inevitable difficulties in life is a smart move.
For Chris Hadfield, training became a way of life, a way of disciplining his mind that served him well both in space and on Earth. Before entering a crowded elevator, he asks himself, “What are we going to do if we get stuck?”
There is a difference between this question and constant fear. Actually, it’s the other way around: if you prepare for the worst, you become calmer.
Astronauts have a wide range of skills (both mental and physical), but their main competence is solving complex problems in the face of uncertainty and danger.
Lesson 2: Astronauts need criticism to survive
Never take criticism personally, but try to learn from it and improve. The ability to offer constructive criticism is a vital survival skill for any astronaut.
Everyone at NASA is expected to have an opinion. Dozens of staff members watch the astronauts as they run their simulations and try to find errors. There is a direct correlation between the amount of criticism the astronauts receive and how safe they feel.
Every mistake is thoroughly investigated to eliminate the possibility of a repeat. An astronaut can expect to receive hundreds of critics over the course of his or her career. A commonplace phenomenon in the workplace.
All of this feedback should help us create a set of flight rules that spell out what to do in an emergency. Astronauts will be better equipped to handle any situation, and they will be less tempted to take unnecessary risks thanks to these guidelines.
However, criticism should never be insulting or mocking. No matter how harsh the feedback, it should never be directed at a specific person. No matter how tempting, you should never make fun of the person when you point out the problem.
These guidelines are helpful everywhere, but especially in the commercial space industry. In the event of a catastrophic event, such as a health crisis or equipment failure, team members can only rely on each other for support.
You do not want your crew members to dislike you because you once made fun of them; you never know when they might be the only ones in the galaxy who can save you from an unknown danger.
Whether you are in the space industry or not, be sure to create an atmosphere where mistakes are seen as opportunities to grow. Everyone on the team needs to feel comfortable talking about and learning from setbacks.
Lesson 3: Long periods of time away from loved ones force astronauts to find other ways to stay close
It is not unusual for missions to last a few months. It is only natural that astronauts and their families struggle with the long periods of time they are separated for training and missions.
Starting in 2007, Hadfield spent six months a year training in Moscow. The United States, Japan, Germany, Canada and Kazakhstan all hosted his training programs. He missed many special occasions, such as birthdays and holidays, because he could only be home about 15 weeks a year. He virtually became a visitor in his own home.
Astronauts have to adjust to these difficult times and try to make it up to their families in advance.
Hadfield sat down before his last mission with a calendar to plan when he would be gone. He planned ahead to make sure the Valentine’s Day card and gift for his wife arrived on time despite his absence.
He knew he had to do something special for his son’s 16th birthday when he realized his launch would overshadow the festivities. To cheer up his son, he told reporters that the crew would light the rocket’s engines in honor of his birthday.
Even if they are not astronauts, many people have an extremely difficult job. Make it up to them in other ways if you know you will not be able to be there for your loved ones in the foreseeable future. You will feel more connected to them even if you are not there, and they will be reminded that you love them even if you can not always be there.
Lesson 4: Life on the International Space Station is pleasant but also serious
The International Space Station (ISS) weighs over a million pounds and takes up as much space as a football field. Because of the spacecraft’s many compartments, you can spend an entire day inside without ever coming into contact with another passenger. And how can you describe the feeling of living on the International Space Station?
Life on board is about as pleasant as being on a sea voyage across the ocean. The water would congeal into lumps, float away and destroy the ship’s sophisticated equipment, so the area is in the middle of nowhere and there is no running water.
Privacy and fresh food are not only scarce, but in short supply. There are no luxurious hot showers and not even basic soap, so hygiene is very basic. To prevent loose hair from flying all over the spacecraft, astronauts must wash their hair by scrubbing their scalp with a non-rinsable shampoo, and then dry it very carefully.
They also have to exercise two hours a day to keep their muscles strong. If they do not, they will not be able to walk or even stand when they return to Earth. It might be tempting to drift aimlessly, but that would be a very bad idea.
The work of an astronaut is serious business, even if space travel is fun. The International Space Station is used primarily as a giant laboratory.
The astronauts on the space station are studying how to expand human exploration of space and preserve human health. However, their contributions are not limited to spaceflight; in fact, many disciplines such as medicine and robotics have benefited from experimentation and research in space.
Some of the equipment in nuclear power plants is based on devices developed for the ISS, and medical experiments in space have revealed methods for preventing a certain type of osteoporosis.
Google Maps also relies on information gathered on the ISS.
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