After two years, over 700 pages written, 1,400 facts and two astronaut fun fact books later, I definitely have learned a few things.
I have always loved astronauts. I still do even now into my forties. I even wanted to be one when I was younger. I did the Young Astronauts program and dreamed of going to Space Camp. I read up on all my astronaut heroes – Sally Ride, Valentina Tereshkova, Neil Armstrong, and Yuri Gagarin.
Then life happened and astronauts and the space program seemed to fade into the background. Shuttle launches weren’t televised as much and everyone just seemed to go on with their everyday lives.
Fast forward to 2020 when we launched American astronauts from American soil again for the first time since the space shuttle was retired in 2011. There seemed to be renewed interest in astronauts again. SpaceX, BlueOrigin, Virgin Galactic started to become household words people knew and spoke about.
I knew I wanted to write another fun fact book after my award-winning Canada fun fact book, so when this renewed interest appeared, I decided this was a wave I wanted to catch and write about.
There are several fun fact books about astronauts out there, but most of them are written for kids, which is wonderful. But I wanted to write a fun fact book about astronauts that would appeal to older kids and to adults alike. I also wanted more than just the surface, everyday astronaut facts.
My brain is intensely curious and I ask questions that most people don’t think to ask, which is why writing fun facts and trivia books are so fun for me. It’s also why the facts found in my books are ones you don’t often find elsewhere.
I wanted to know which foot was the first foot on the Moon. Left or right foot? I wanted to know what types of space injuries astronauts most often got or what kinds of things you would find in the medicine cabinet on the International Space Station. Or what exactly would happen if someone died in space? I wanted to know exactly what was left behind on the Moon. I felt like it was important to know more about the men and women who died in the name of space exploration.
What I thought would be a book I could write in a few short months, actually took about a year. I couldn’t just make it a short book. The more I read and learned, the more I couldn’t leave out. I also knew that if it was to be taken seriously, I needed to include my references and footnotes. This was great, but it complicated things. I could no longer do my own formatting and would have to hire someone to help me. I also felt like the book would need an index, which was also something I would also need help with.
The astronaut book also turned out to be over 700 pages when I turned it over to my first editor. She felt it was best we broke it up into two books rather than just one big book. That made my title, Everything About Astronauts, a little less accurate, but I still decided to go with it and break it up into volumes. This would also make it possible for me to add to it since a lot is happening and writing a volume 3 is definitely in my future plans.
Here’s a rundown of what it took to make Everything About Astronauts Volume 1 & 2 happen and a few things that happened along the way:
- Just over two years in the making
- Over 12 astronaut books read during research
- Over 1,400 facts
- Over 1,400 references
- Over 700 pages written
- 554 pages published
- 4 astronauts contacted
- 3 different cover designs to choose from
- 3 editors
- 2 designers
- 1 fact checker
- 1 indexer
- 1 proofreader
A few of my favorite facts I learned along the way:
ASTRONAUT ICE CREAM IS A LIE
If you think about it, freeze-dried astronaut ice cream is one of the crumbliest foods you could eat. If bread and chips aren’t allowed, there’s no way NASA would allow what is sold as astronaut ice cream in space. An astronaut did request ice cream during the Apollo program, but what actually flew was a synthetic cube that was dairy-based. It wasn’t anything like what we know as astronaut ice cream and what you find in science museum gift shops.
The only ice cream astronauts eat on the International Space Station today is normal ice cream and it comes up in freezers in resupply vehicles. The freezers are for experiment samples, but instead of sending up empty freezers, NASA takes advantage of that empty space and sends the ISS crew frozen treats. This isn’t a common occurrence, but it’s a special treat when it does happen.
Space sickness happens in space, but when they return to Earth astronauts can also experience what’s known as earth sickness or landing vertigo. Astronauts will often take anti-sickness medication to help.
BUZZ LIGHTYEAR – TO THE ISS AND BEYOND
Pixar’s Buzz Lightyear made his way to space onboard the International Space Station. In May 2008, a 12-inch Buzz Lightyear action figure was launched onboard Space Shuttle Discovery. The “Toy Story” space ranger spent over 15 months in space as part of the Toys in Space educational program. This little space ranger has spent more time on the ISS on one mission than any astronaut or cosmonaut. He returned home September 11, 2009 on Space Shuttle Discovery.
CHRISTA MCAULIFFE’S LOST LESSONS
Christa McAuliffe was the teacher selected to be part of the very first Teacher in Space Program. She had planned to share six filmed lessons along with two live lessons she planned to share in space. Christa McAuliffe was one of the seven astronauts killed in the Challenger disaster. So while she was never able to share those lessons, her lessons are still available and can be watched today on YouTube. To see videos of McAuliffe rehearsing those lessons, check out these videos on YouTube. Also years later, several of her lessons were also brought to life by other astronauts onboard the International Space Station.
While these books were definitely a labor of love, I’m grateful I took on the challenge and am incredibly proud of what they have become. No matter how much you know about astronauts, I know you will learn something new.
Enjoy and Stay Curious!
Both volumes are available as ebooks and paperback and can be found online wherever fine books are sold.
Have you ever asked?
- What were the 106 items the Apollo 11 crew left on the Moon?
- What does moon dust smell like?
- What kind of crazy tests do space agencies put astronaut applicants through?
- How much do astronauts get paid?
Volume 1 is packed with over 600 bizarre and surprising fun facts that cover entertaining topics about what it takes to become an astronaut, how astronauts trained to go to the Moon, little-known facts about famous astronauts and so much more.
Prepare to find yourself laughing out loud as you discover tidbits like:
- Why superstitious cosmonauts refuse to cut their hair while in space
- The most popular and least popular foods in space
- What is involved during space potty training
- How Amelia Earhart’s watch went to space
Volume 2 covers intriguing topics about what it’s like to live and work in space, what foods astronauts can and can’t eat, random space records, weird space injuries and so much more.