Author: Mary Roach
Title: Packing for Mars
Publication Info: New York : W.W. Norton, c2010.
With plans for long-term space exploration afoot, Mary Roach explores the many challenges of putting human beings in space. This is less the physics of rocket propulsion and more the psychological and cultural problems of human space exploration. Roach is a good investigator in that she asks the questions we always wanted to ask and many more we never even thought to ask. She’s also an amusing writer in that she seems to challenge the mindset of a 12-year old boy. Issues explored in this book include the effects of isolation and working in close quarters with others for long duration, the physical and psychological effects of weightlessness, illness and vomiting in space, personal hygiene, sex in space, evacuating from space disasters, and everyone’s need to eat and thus need to poop. Roach draws upon astronaut memoirs, technical documents, and interviews with people around the world who are directly involved in the fascinating and often absurd work that goes into human space exploration.
Recommended books: The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe, Moon Shot by Alan Shepard, A Man on the Moon by Andrew Chaikin, & Lost Moon by Jeffrey Kluger,