Book Review: Endurance by Scott Kelly

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As a retired military fighter pilot and U.S. Navy captain, Scott Kelly has many notable accomplishments in his career. Kelly became an astronaut, commanding three expeditions on the International Space Station, while also contributing to the “Year In Space” mission. Kelly broke several records for the number of accumulated days in space, as well as the single longest space mission by an American astronaut. He began to write about his experiences during his “Year in Space” mission, and has published a memoir since his return to Earth.

Endurance takes the reader through the thrills and hardships of living on the International Space Station. The mission was a long, dangerous process where Kelly was aware that, “Every single thing I do is important, that every day could be my last.”

New Paragraph Traveling at 17,500 miles an hour, the International Space Station transports crew members back and forth via shuttles and capsules to rotate time spent there. Kelly was a part of an experiment that included his twin brother, who remained on Earth. Taking blood samples and tests from Scott and Mark, NASA was able to gain information on whether or not spending long periods of time in space affected the body. This experiment would bring further results about whether or not travel to Mars was possible.

Life on the station itself challenged Kelly physically, mentally, and emotionally.  The crew needed to be capable of performing science experiments as well as ultrasounds, medical tests, basic dentistry, and give each other haircuts. Astronauts must be physically able to endure living in a zero gravity environment. During his time in space, his vision was affected, and his body was often affected by the airflow on the space station. Later, Kelly was at risk of being removed from a mission after suffering from prostate cancer.

One of Kelly’s hardest tasks was dealing with being away from home. Kelly had a girlfriend, two daughters, his twin brother, and other loved ones he missed while away. Every ninety minutes he looked forward to the sunrises and sunsets in space. He loved seeing the Earth from above because it provided him with a sense of peace. Kelly also had an appreciation for life. “I’ve learned that climbing into a rocket that may kill me is both a confrontation of mortality and an adventure that makes me feel more alive than anything else I’ve ever experienced in life.”

Along with giving a detailed description of the things he experienced in space, Kelly spent almost every other chapter describing his life leading up to his year-long mission. He discussed his transition from being a test pilot for the military to interviewing for NASA. The application period and preparing for flight was a stressful process that tested Kelly’s strength in every way possible. The reader is taken through the ups and downs of the process and through the thoughts he experienced, including the first time he was strapped in a shuttle that would launch from the Earth. “Boy, this is a really dumb thing to be doing.”

Scott Kelly’s ability to tell his story is powerful and exciting. The descriptions of the space station, the application process, and the emotions he felt during the year in space, as well as the intensity of performing a spacewalk for the first time, is exhilarating and informative. Kelly also provides visual images throughout the book to show the reader his experiences, taking the reader on the space adventure with the crew of the ISS. The writing style Kelly uses is controlled and vulnerable. It shows the reader the burdens and triumphs an astronaut faces when traveling beyond the Earth’s atmosphere.

This was a beautiful story. I could not put the book down. Kelly has a natural ability to take the reader into his mind and learn from his experiences. Space travel is an incredible process that proves how far humanity has come. Endurance is sure to give any reader a new appreciation for the work that astronauts do to contribute to the development of science in space. I would recommend this book because it has a beautiful story of real life experiences that those of us on Earth could never imagine.

 

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