The heroes of many of my friends as a child were the usual celebrities, musicians, or sports figures. I was no different. Mom and dad took my brothers and I to many air shows, but a trip to the Kennedy Space Center way back in the 1970’s escalated astronauts to heroic levels. Seeing the massive Saturn V rocket on display and seeing the vehicle assembly building sparked quite an interest in all things space and rockets. I could name all the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo astronauts. I could recite all the major missions, triumphs, and tragedies. They may not have been perfect people, but they were all heroes to me.
Life has a way of taking us on different journeys. While I love our space program, and continue to read space and NASA related topics on a regular basis, my life journey was a different path. Recently, I read “Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe”, by Mike Massimino.
Although Space Shuttle astronauts are not as known by name as the ones from the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs, I still love to read the first-hand accounts of what it’s like to prepare for missions and to fly in space. To read and hopefully be able to grasp the meaning of what it’s like to gaze down upon our blue planet from afar is of keen interest to me. To understand the dedication and effort required always impresses me.
Mike Massimino is a veteran of two shuttle missions (STS-109 & STS-125), and performed multiple spacewalks in support of the Hubble Space Telescope. His work kept this priceless scientific tool in operation, helping astronomers to keep learning about the mysteries of the universe, and to keep inspiring the global population with breathtaking images.
Massimino provides a great opportunity to learn to achieve. He didn’t stumble and fall into his selection as an astronaut. He failed and was disqualified for medical reasons when first applying to NASA. He never gave up. Through determination and work, he was able to achieve a lifelong dream and goal. He applied to NASA and made it. He reminds me of myself as a child, looking at the space program with awe and love. Unlike me, he planned and worked hard to realize his goal.
I highly recommend this book not just for lovers of space exploration, but for those who are in school, or just starting out on a career. For those who want to be inspired to grow and achieve a dream, this book hits the target. Not all of us are astronaut caliber in terms of education and skillsets, but we can all learn to set a goal and through work and determination, achieve our goals. This applies to everyone. I learned from his example and gained inspiration as I read. I just turned 48, and am looking the down the barrel of 50. I have a decision to make. I can look at my life and just accept this is the nature of my career and life, and just float along down the river. Or I can look at life and see what possibilities are there. Sure, changing things as you close in on 50 may have more challenges, but if we never set a goal, there’s a 100 percent chance we won’t accomplish it.
So I’ll not be an astronaut. Nor will I be a professional baseball player. But I can seek to inspire and leave a lasting impression all the same. Massimino provides a great example of what we can do if we set our minds on something, but most importantly, to plan, use good strategy, and to be persistent in working towards these. Dreams and goals are not age specific, and when reading this book, the reader will realize it. Even for someone who has zero interest in space exploration, this is such a great book on the impact of attaining a dream and goal can have on someone’s life.
Passion is the key. Massimino details that simply becoming an astronaut is not everything. If the end goal is to publish a book, to become an astronaut, to get into the big leagues, what are the plans afterward? If you look for the passion in life, then regardless of accomplishments, each day will provide the drive and fulfillment. Have specific goals, but also be sure that you have the passion.
There are books that are good and entertaining, but I may not remember much after a while. Then there are books that make you think and reflect on things, that make you look at your life and ask questions. This one is among the best I’ve read, and highly recommend it to anyone who wants to develop, learn, and grow. For those who want inspiration to achieve and motivation to find their passion, this is a must read.