To the average person being an astronaut is one of the most glamorous jobs out there. What could be more glamorous than going where so few people have gone before?
What most don’t realize and what Mary Roach covers in “Packing for Mars” is that there is a lot of un glamorous things that astronauts have to do.
Roach covers the topic in her usual lighthearted and funny take on things. If you have read and of her previous work she has the same voice albeit a bit more mature.
She also does not back away from “delicate” topics. Like going to the bathroom in space. If you are like me and never have given that aspect a second thought that chapter will be enlightening. It covers everything from the first fecal bag to the now top of the line suction toilet. She goes into her usual depth about how bathroom toilets progresses and the insensitive that emerge from having to deal with not having a place to dump the waste in outers space to if an astronaut misses the toilet.
She also deals with if anyone has ever had sex in space or in weightless gravity. She herself does a lot of research to be able to write detailed book about what it would entail in bringing live humans to Mars.She undergoes some of the same training that astronauts go through. She is complete honest and funny in her findings.
Perhaps the most important thing that she discusses is how people manage to survive in such closed quarters for the duration of the mission. I don’t know about you but I take my space for seriously. Which is why I live alone. But Astronauts when there are on a mission and even in the international Space Station must like in close quarters. So what kind of effects does that have on them.
Believe it or not they actually have simulations of that here on earth. They put people into enclosed spaces and see how things pan out. Things don’t always pan out the way people hope.
There is a lot more that Roach discussed in her book. The whole thing is a fascinating journey into what really goes into preparing to go out into space. Perhaps, at least for me one of the shocking revelations was that an astronaut is not guaranteed a flight into space. He or she spends most of her time in earth simulations and hope that one day they will get to see the glory that is outer space.