Astronautics, in its hostile and inhospitable environment, has accustomed us to authentic human prowess. The astronaut’s life in space is inherently dangerous but in spite of everything we have managed to be able to work and remain in it for long periods of time. During the last decades, successive records of stay in the orbital stations have been broken, in the conviction that it is necessary to learn everything possible to face with guarantees a future trip to Mars, which necessarily would force us to be many months away from our planet. The story of the last of these long-lasting experiments is called “Resistance, a year in space,” and has been written by one of its protagonists, the American astronaut Scott Kelly.
This space traveler, one of the veterans of NASA’s manned program, adds four missions, three of them to the international station. Having accumulated 520 days in space, he has become one of the most expert astronauts. A total of 340 days, almost a year, he dedicated to his last trip in the orbital complex, where along with his Russian companion Mikhail Korniyenko, he provided physicists on land a huge amount of physiological data, a baggage that will serve the experts to prepare future trips to the asteroids, Mars and maybe beyond.
Scott, who has a twin brother on Earth (Mark), a retired astronaut, became the perfect subject to evaluate how the human body adapts to space and how it changes from another on earth, biologically identical. But beyond the scientific results of his space journey, Scott accumulated during those 11 and a half months a large number of experiences, so many and so interesting that it was worthwhile to make them known.
In this book, the author, with the help of Margaret Lazarus Dean, tells us in detail not only his stay in the space, but also his selection for the mission, his period of training, and his exhausting return to Earth. Throughout the work, he also tells us how he became an astronaut, his problematic youth life, his attachment to loved ones, etc. We are therefore facing a perfect portrait of what an astronaut is and what they must suffer and experience to make their dream come true. With a couple and two teenage daughters, Scott had to make several decisions before accepting a challenge like the one proposed by NASA. Staying away from your family for a long time is not usual (trips to the station usually do not last more than 6 months) and there are many things that you have to leave before you leave.
The book, very autobiographical, is truly inspiring for the reader. Some young people may think about dedicating their professional life to a scientific career after finishing reading their pages. Because beyond the anecdote, of the thousands of dawns and sunsets observed, of the millions of kilometers traveled, you can feel a love for science, for the advancement of knowledge, and a conviction that you are making a valuable contribution to the future of our species.
In that interval, of course, we will discover the day to day of an astronaut in space, the problems they face, the moments of intimacy with their family through communications, the feelings of humanity and appreciation of the arrival of Other colleagues … Kelly had time to observe the Earth as whole many times and to reflect on the conflicts that constantly affect her and on the degradation her biosphere suffers.
The book also provides several color plates with photographs of the protagonist, his flights to space, or the earth’s own surface, which bring us even closer to this exciting profession.
Although we are not before the first book written by an astronaut in relation to his work, this will certainly be one of the most attractive to the reader of all ages and interests. The story of a long journey that, hopefully, can soon be surpassed by another that is even more so, this time in the direction of Mars.
Debate. 2018. Softcover, 447 pages. ISBN: 978-84-9992-822-7