From Publishers Weekly
When the space shuttle Columbia
broke up during its re-entry into Earth's atmosphere in February 2003, two American astronauts were still aboard the International Space Station, along with a Russian flight engineer. With further NASA flights suspended for months, perhaps years, questions began to emerge not only about how to bring the three men back, but how to provide them with enough supplies while they remained in space. Jones first wrote about the Expedition 6 team in an award-winning article for Esquire
(where he is a contributing editor), and his story combines gripping narrative and strongly defined characters. Though extensive accounts of the Americans' backgrounds seems at first to put the brakes on, it's a necessary counterweight to parallel passages about the little-understood Russian space program—essential information because the three eventually took "an accelerated, lung-crushing dive" in a Soyuz capsule. In addition to that adventure, Jones's reporting is filled with details of life aboard the space station, from the amazing beauty of a space walk to the more mundane problem of "taking a crap" in zero gravity. That sort of frank talk enhances readers' identification with the astronauts, making their drama all the more engrossing. (Mar. 6)
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In an up-close and personal style, with occasional Tom Wolfe-like flourishes, Jones depicts the life of the modern astronaut who boards the space shuttle and flies to the International Space Station (ISS). The experience of launch and living in orbit receive all-questions-answered coverage, from making wills to eating to using the toilet, given as preliminaries to Jones' main drama: telling of the predicament of two Americans and a Russian who were aboard the ISS when the space shuttle Columbia
was destroyed in February 2003. Although not exactly stranded by the subsequent suspension of shuttle flights--the ISS had a Soyuz lifeboat--Kenneth Bowersox, Don Pettit, and Nikolai Budarin had to adapt operationally and emotionally to an extended mission until, after terrestrials debated and dismissed the idea of abandoning the ISS, the Russians could launch a replacement crew. Jones, who obtained the cooperation of Bowersox and his crewmates, captures their feelings of separation from Earth and delivers space travel's ever-present risk in a kinetic rendering of their harrowing return home. Gilbert TaylorCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved