A veteran astronaut weighs in on queries ranging from how the universe began to how to pee in a spacesuit.
The hundreds of questions are grouped in broadly topical chapters but otherwise arranged in no particular order. They cover an astronaut’s qualifications, training, and work; what it feels like to travel into space and to live there; the nature of the universe and our near-future prospects for exploring it. Jones draws on his experiences on four space shuttle flights between 1994 and 2001 for his answers, which are usually fairly lengthy, though he plainly leaves a few things out: if “NASA astronauts wait an average of five years between missions,” why were his so much closer together? Will he ever go to space again? “Not if I want to stay married.” Still, he often drills down to the nitty-gritty: what’s in the International Space Station’s tool kit? A long list, beginning with vise grips and including “a crowbar, a fiber optic boroscope, torque tip drivers.” He doesn’t trumpet personal opinions, but they can be found in lukewarm responses to questions about space camp and space tourism, as well as a cogent argument for continuing our exploration of the high frontier: “We will be struck again by an asteroid.” Plenty of small space photos and snapshots of the author and other astronauts at work and play are interspersed.
Fine browsing for space geeks. (Nonfiction. 11-14)