Astronauts are portrayed as heroic, noble men. Shuttle Astronaut Mike Mullane portrays them as human.

“I was incoherent with joy. I was now a real astronaut. I was a live astronaut.”

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That humanity— their humor, fears, ambition— only makes these men and women even more extraordinary and the loss of any of them more tragic.

Why is this on our bookshelf?

Okay, so in Packing for Mars, author Mary Roach picked this, of all astronaut memoirs, as one of her very favorites. I absolutely had to read it.

Besides, space is cool.

Rating (4 stars)

Bawdy jokes, ribald humor and honesty. In a world where astronauts are admired as flawless heroes, Mike Mullane reveals things about the Astronaut Corps that no other book has done before.

In the process, Mullane reveals the humor, fears, and ambitions of a remarkable group of people, the diverse group from Astronaut Group 8 (TFNG), who would go on to make history.

Mullane is brutally honest about the early years of the shuttle program. As someone who grew up in the Shuttle era, I have a new appreciation for the achievements of the astronauts and the inherent danger of shuttle missions.

Seeing the shuttle program through his eyes threw a different perspective on landmark achievements, the stresses and successes of astronaut life and the tragedies that sometimes occur. The Challenger explosion was heartbreaking when the story was told by an astronaut.

If you’re easily offended, this is not the astronaut memoir for you. Many of the jokes are offensive by today’s standards (but often funny regardless).

However, I know its a good book when I know want to research every single shuttle mission that ever flew.