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When the new launch date in November was approaching, the astronauts were wandering if more problems would suddenly appear and prevent another launch. Some astronauts believed that the mission had a bad luck aura around it, but did not discuss it openly. One astronaut had told his relatives that he was never coming back home again! The launch did take place on November , and to spectators on the ground and to the astronauts aboard Columbia the launch was routine and successful.

But cameras aboard Columbia transmitted a different image to Mission Control.


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A piece was dislodged during the launch and hit critical heat shields located underside the shuttle. After reviewing the tape hundreds of times, Mission Control concluded that the piece must have bounced off the underside of the shuttle causing no damage. On February 1, , only seven of the ten astronauts were heading back to Earth aboard Columbia after bidding farewell to the three astronauts they left behind in the International Space Station.

A look at people killed during space missions

Sadly, they never made it back home. On re-entry, as witnessed by millions of spectators worldwide, Columbia exploded, killing all seven astronauts onboard. Contrary to what Mission Control thought at first, the heat shields were damaged during the launch. Mission Controls in Houston and Moscow worked around the clock to bring back the astronauts safely.

Launching another Space Shuttle was not an option, since further NASA space shuttle launches were suspended for months, perhaps years. There was also the problem of how to provide the stranded astronauts with enough supplies while they remained in space. Ultimately, they had to settle to a plan that, according to the author, was risky to say the least.

Latched to the side of the space station was a Russian-built Soyuz TMA-1 capsule with outdated technology and, according to the Americans, a questionable safety record. In a malfunction in the Soyuz 11 capsule left three Russian cosmonauts dead However, as one reviewer on amazon. Furthermore, the Soyuz TMA-1 capsule hadn't been flight tested before there was never a need to use it!

However, as far as the Russians were concerned, the Soyuz was safe and the only way to bring the astronauts back home.


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Despite the inherent danger, the Soyuz became the only hope to return Bowersox, Budarin, and Petit home. Interestingly, though, the three astronauts had such a great time aboard the International Space Station that none of them wanted to return home when they were relieved.

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Aboard the Soyuz, the three astronauts eventually took "an accelerated, lung-crushing dive" back to earth. Their account aboard the Soyuz is remarkable, and will leave you gasping for air! The author goes back to the history of the space race with Russia; with the first Russian in space; to animals sent in rockets to space; Neil Armstrong's walk on the moon; the Russian space station; and finally to the International Space Station. You will learn a lot of things about life in space that you probably did not know about, assuming you have not read such material before like me.

For example, many early astronauts aboard space stations felt lonely and depressed and longed for home. All the earlier astronauts retired from NASA soon after their return from space! Two astronauts actually went on strike for a whole day while on a space station, and refused to continue their mission.

They too retired from NASA on their return. However, the Russian cosmonauts fared much better. They adapted well to the loneliness and confines of space, unlike their American counterparts. According to the author, this is due to the simple life of the Russians as compared to the luxurious and comfortable life Americans lead and are used to. You will learn a lot about the amazing beauty of a space walk, and how astronauts are so mesmerized by the beauty that they forget themselves, floating as in a trance towards Earth. One astronaut almost was lost in this way if it wasn't for another astronaut pulling him back!

I actually went to my video store and bought an Imax DVD of a spacewalk! On the funny side, you'll learn how astronauts "take a crap" in zero gravity, and some quite embarrassing situations! Here's some negative criticism from other reviewers on amazon. Everything seems a little too exaggerated -- the spicy language, the icy fear, the burning decisions.

Maybe this style would have held up without question in a magazine, but at the novel's length, I kept wondering, "How do you know? Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. I always wanted to be an astronaut. But being born legally blind, that was not to be. So I pursued a degree in aerospace engineering, and for years, focused on the technical side of spaceflight. I've read many articles and books about how the shuttle, Soyuz, and the ISS work. This book is really not about that, and that is why I enjoyed it so much. This book is about the people involved in a very dramatic story.

It's about the three men who were left stranded aboard the International Space Station when Columbia was lost, and the men and women whose lives and decisions surrounded theirs. Each man's character comes through clearly over the course of the book, as if you're getting to know them in person, and you come to appreciate the story more because of what you have been shown of these men. When the book ends, you want to hear Ken Bowersox give a quiet, thoughtful, and introspective lecture. You want to have Don Pettit teach you something--anything!

And you want to give Nikolai Budarin a big hug and have a drink with him, just because that man seems that cool. Bowersox was probably a great mission commander, but I'd fly anywhere with Budarin. He seems the sort who could land a washing machine. If Hemingway had created Budarin, I doubt I'd have found him believable. These characters--and the others, especially Anne Bowersox and Micki Pettit--make this a very different sort of space book than those so full of technical details and explanations.

As a result, this book captivated me in a way the more technical books never could, and I suspect that readers without any background or previous knowledge of the space program would find it very accessible and captivating. I recommend this book very highly. Chris Jones rules the nonfiction world.

This is a very telling version of what actually happens in our space program. While we desperately need the space program, it is scary how easily our very dedicated and talented astronauts can be harmed or killed in their jobs. My commendations to them for their courage and pride in their work. I very much enjoyed this book. It is an easy read. I really enjoyed this book. I have always had an interest in the space program since I grew up in Florida and would watch most launches when I was in grade school.

There were just a few parts of the book that might not be totally accurate due to the writers background as a sports writer and that is why I gave 4 stars. One of the astronauts in the book is a personal friend.. Don Pettit so fascinating to read this story. See all 29 reviews. Most recent customer reviews.

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Published on August 18, Published on January 5, Published on November 25, Published on November 22, Published on June 13, Published on February 23, Despite the inherent danger, the Soyuz became the only hope to return Bowersox, Budarin, and Pettit home. Chris Jones writes beautifully of the majesty and mystique of space travel, while reminding us all how perilous it is to soar beyond the sky. An incredible true-life adventure set on the most dangerous frontier of all—outer space For a special breed of individual, the call of space is worth the risk it entails: But then, on February 1, , the Columbia exploded beneath them.

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Chris Jones is the author of Out of Orbit: Buy the Audiobook Download: Apple Audible downpour eMusic audiobooks. About Too Far From Home An incredible, true-life adventure set on the most dangerous frontier of all—outer space In the nearly forty years since Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, space travel has come to be seen as a routine enterprise—at least until the shuttle Columbia disintegrated like the Challenger before it, reminding us, once again, that the dangers are all too real. About Too Far From Home An incredible true-life adventure set on the most dangerous frontier of all—outer space For a special breed of individual, the call of space is worth the risk it entails: Also by Chris Jones.

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