Scott Kelly, a four-time veteran of off-planet missions, including a year aboard the International Space Station, offers in his book, "Endurance," a view of astronautics that is at once compelling and cautionary. Why go into space in the first place? Kelly ponders that existential question early on, the whys and wherefores of entering into the strangest of strange environments and potentially suffering all manner of consequences.
Kelly still holds the American record for consecutive days spent in outer space. Naturally, that comes at a cost; his book opens with an alarming portrait of edema, rashes and malaise, and hence another answer emerges: we can't go to, say, Mars without understanding what space flight does to a human body. Kelly's book shines in its depiction of the day-to-day work of astronautics and more particularly where that work involves international cooperation.
Scott Kelly is a former military fighter pilot and test pilot, an engineer, a retired astronaut and a retired U.S. Navy captain. A veteran of four space flights, Kelly commanded the International Space Station on three expeditions and was a member of the yearlong mission. During the Year in Space mission, he set records for the total accumulated number of days spent in space and for the single longest space mission by an American astronaut.
In, "Endurance," he describes the catastrophic risks of colliding with space junk, and the still more haunting threat of being unable to help should tragedy strike at home--an agonizing situation Kelly faced when, on a previous mission, his twin brother's wife, American Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was shot while he still had two months in space.