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Ask the Astronaut by Tom Jones
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Ask the Astronaut

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Ask the Astronaut by Tom Jones
Paperback $12.95
Mar 22, 2016 | ISBN 9781588345370

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    Mar 22, 2016 | ISBN 9781588345370 | Middle Grade (10 and up)

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  • Mar 22, 2016 | ISBN 9781588345387 | Middle Grade (10 and up)

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Product Details


The former space shuttle astronaut and planetary scientist has written a treasure trove of answers to FAQs about modern space flight. The text is well organized, with questions categorized into chapters that explain the different steps in the process of aspiring to, training for, and living and working in space. Jones answers scores of questions that he has received over the years at public forums, from “Where should we send astronauts next in space?” to “Have astronauts ever seen space aliens?” Most of the book focuses on NASA’s space shuttle voyages to the International Space Station, because this is Jones’s greatest area of experience as an astronaut. The technical descriptions in the answers are a bit complex, but the firsthand details and comprehensive back matter make this an ideal addition to any junior high or high school library. VERDICT A fascinating look at space travel that will excite budding STEM students.–Kelly Kingrey-Edwards, Blinn Junior College, Brenham, TX


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)

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