Too Far From Home: A Story of Life and Death in Space
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Too Far From Home: A Story of Life and Death in Space

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  295 ratings  ·  65 reviews
An incredible, true-life adventure set on the most dangerous frontier of all—outer spaceIn the nearly forty years since Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, space travel has come to be seen as a routine enterprise—at least until the shuttle Columbia disintegrated like the Challenger before it, reminding us, once again, that the dangers are all too real.
Too Far from Home vivi...more
Kindle Edition, 310 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2007)
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Like the JFK assassination, Challenger explosion and 9/11, space shuttle Columbia's tragic end is one of those "where were you when" events that was so shocking that it made an indelible mark on Americans' collective memory. While "Too Far From Home" retraces some aspects of our history in space, this historic story (whose details were new to me) in many ways starts upon the demise of space shuttle Columbia. Perhaps it was well known at the time, but I hadn't realized the seriousness of the dile...more
Oct 05, 2013 Deedee rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: space enthusiasts
3.5 stars
I was surprised when I first started reading this book. I had expected it to be more technical. Instead, alot of the book was "how does it feel", and I wondered, how does Chris Jones know how it feels? Reading the acknowledgements, I found out -- the astronauts involved were thanked for being "particularly generous with their time".

The frame of the book was this: After Columbia burnt up in the atmosphere on February 1, 2003, the American shuttle fleet was grounded until the cause of the...more
Lisa Kren
I actually worked with Don Pettit, one of the American astronauts at NASA. He's an amazing guy and the book hardly does the entire experience justice. Hearing the encounter from him, the man who was ACTAULLY on board, makes the book pale in comparison. This is something that should not soon be forgotten. A very, VERY scary mission; a very close call. My best to you & your family, Don:)
When the Columbia made her final descent into fire on February 1, 2003, the seven who died aboard weren't the only astronauts affected by it. Aboard the International Space Station, the crew of Expedition Six--Commander Ken Bowersox, Flight Engineer Nikolai Budarin, and Science Officer Don Pettit--suddenly found themselves stuck without a ride home, at least for the time being. This book is their story, as well as the story of the Columbia, and of the mission controllers in Houston and Moscow wh...more
Kirk Battle
This is a frank discussion about the perils of space travel and life on the international space station. It's framed around the Columbia disaster and the subsequent grounding of the American shuttle fleet, which left the three residents stranded for a period of months until the Russians could send up replacements.

Since there's not much drama to the frame, just a tragic accident and growing anxiety, the book's highlights tend to be the elaborate stories and chronicling of past experiences in the...more
Really interesting ride. It's a history of the two astronauts and one cosmonaut who were stuck on the International Space Station after the space shuttle Columbia burned up on re-entry in 2003. Because all shuttles were grounded for a couple years, their ride home had to be jury-rigged (via Russian space capsule) a few months longer than they'd planned.

If the premise doesn't seem interesting, the way that Jones writes about space, being in space, and what it means should make you pick up the bo...more
Chris Jones writes about astronauts Donald Pettit, Kenneth Bowersox and Nikolai Budarin, who “lost their ride home” from the International Space Station when the Columbia shuttle heading back to earth was accidentally destructed on its descent with seven astronauts aboard in 2003.

Like a mystery, Jones keeps the reader in suspense as to how and when these men might be returned to earth.

This book is an in-depth look at how dangerous space travel is and the challenges needed to try and keep astrona...more
How come I never knew about this story? Why didn't the press cover it at all? Probably because a deft hand like the author's wasn't available to tell it. The narrative is almost dreamlike, from a complete trance-induced point of view, which makes it a worthy way of relaying this incredible story, plucked from the galaxy of incredible stories that comprise the amazing space program that awestruck me in my youth. I learned things about the program I never knew, and the author really gets into the...more
Matthew Ciarvella
While the surprisingly light focus on the science of life in space might be discouraging for fans of this topic, for me the focus on how it actually feels to live and work on the International Space Station was a breath of fresh air. Jones relates the story of two astronauts and one cosmonaut in a way that is deeply personal and filled with the details and care that could only come from long hours of personal interviews. Jones relates their story with careful attention to detail; little things l...more
This is based upon the audio download from []

Narrated by: Erik Davies

Imagine being stranded in the International Space Station not knowing when the next shuttle is coming to take you home. This is story of two U.S. astronauts and one cosmonaut after the shuttle Columbia was destroyed upon re-entry in the earth's atmosphere and NASA's efforts to bring them home.
Oh, that all nonfiction were this well written.
Kathleen Hagen
Too Far From Home: a Story of Life and Death in Space, by Chris Jones; Narrated by erik Davies, produced by Random House Audio, downloaded from

This is the story of the three men who left for the international space station in November, 2002, and expected to be home in 14 weeks. The crew consisted of two Americans and a Russian. Then, in January, 2003, the Columbia space shuttle exploded just sixteen minutes from landing, killing all aboard and destroying the shuttle. The difficulty...more
Aug 15, 2010 rabbitprincess rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: space enthusiasts
Recommended to rabbitprincess by: CBC Between the Covers
Note: This review is of the book as presented on the CBC podcast "Between the Covers", starting the week of May 18, 2010.

A highly informative look at the story of Expedition 6, a three-man mission to the International Space Station that was stranded temporarily in space when their ride home, the space shuttle Columbia, suffered the tragic accident in 2003. This book was a departure from the Between the Covers podcast's usual fare (Canadian novels, generally contemporary), but it was an excellent...more
I was a little disappointed in this book. I really wanted to like it, and was excited to read it after having read the initial article in Esquire magazine (which can be found online here). The book started out strong, and I liked the historical information about the American and Russian space programs, but I felt there was too much inferences drawn from the personal lives of the three men. It was strange to read of their thoughts and feelings when the book was written by a third party; it just d...more
The book documents the lives of the three men aboard the International Space Station around the time of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. It is a fascinating and chilling account of what it is like to live in space - 'the best part of lonely'. To live in complete seclusion with mother earth as a backdrop; no traffic to get stuck in, no rain to soak you, no hustle and bustle; to be away from all that is familiar and taken for granted: family, friends, weather, gravity, running water, sipping c...more
Victor T.
The book is not easy to review. Too much detail in some sections, too "florid" (as said by another reviewer) in others, but at the same time a really useful, comprehensive history of efforts to learn the survivability of space in long-term missions. Interesting in contrasting the fatalism of the Russian space programme to the blind optimism of the American, where the Challenger and Columbia disasters threatened the public support of the programme. Un-put-downable for about the last third of the...more
Abby Johnson
I didn't know how interested in space I was until I read this book! Chris Jones breezes over the history of the space race in this book, but he concentrates on a 2003 mission that sent three astronauts to live in space for several months. These three astronauts were supposed to come home on the Columbia. But on February 1, 2003, Columbia was destroyed upon reentering the earth's atmosphere, killing the seven astronauts on board. The three men aboard the Interational Space Station were left stran...more
A story about life and death in space, if you've ever wondered what it's like to be an astronaut, to live at Station for a day, this is one of the most in-depth books I've ever read about day-to-day life for an astronaut, what it's like to float in their moon boots, both physically and mentally.

This book completely changed the way I thought about the space program, I have nothing but respect for NASA and their endeavors into space!

I strongly recommend listening to these songs while reading:

This was a really great read about the men trapped on the Int'l Space Station after Columbia exploded and the US shuttle program was grounded. It was an incredible read, pretty fast-paced and understandable even for those who have no knowledge of space travel or physics. Nice b/w photo insert, too.
AJ Armstrong
A competently-written and interesting look at an under-reported story. Marred by occasional liberties by the author to imagine scenarios, very little information or insight about the Russian member of the crew. Space nerds will be irritated by a very few mistakes on technical details and science.
This is a pretty poorly written book about what should be interesting stuff. It starts with an excellent discussion of Soviet (Russian) and American space stations and associated mishaps, especially aboard Mir. Then the plot: Two astronauts and a cosmonaut are "stranded" aboard the ISS when the Columbia disintegrated during reentry. Their only way home is [gasp!] the dangerous (more dangerous than the Space Shuttle? Good luck!) Russian Soyuz capsule, and they have to wait until another team can...more
Beatrice Marie
Oct 03, 2011 Beatrice Marie rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Beatrice Marie by: Catherine
Tick, tock, tick, tock...
The beauty of this book is it managed to make you realize how much TIME went by before these poor astronauts could come home. Plus, you don't have to be a space nut to appreciate the description of space life -- how do you pee? How do you eat? How often are sunsets? The author shows us just enough of the politics behind the space programs to keep it interesting. When did the US start working with Russia and why? for example. Also, the book is a bunch of small stories wit...more
This is a fascinating story of the incredible experience of the three astronauts who were faced with an extended stay on the International Space Station after the last shuttle disaster. The story of their preparation, journey to and from, experiences in the station, and their dramatic return to earth are presented very well in this book. The only thing missing is a little more input from the astronauts themselves into the story, but otherwise it is easy and fascinating to read, it doesn't get dr...more
From personal experience, I can advise that this book isn't optimal bedtime reading, given how terrifying, sad, and gruesome some parts of this book could be, not to mention how long my thoughts lingered on some of the existential terror. But aside from that (or perhaps because of that), I found it very gripping, even if the narrative style--intensely personal and sometimes overdramatized--sometimes grated.

P.S. The coffee subplot of the book also has a happy epilogue, as Don Pettit went on to in...more
Elizabeth Vencill
The story of three astronauts "stranded" in the International Space Shuttle, this book chronicles their experience and feelings about being so far from firm ground and isolated in a "bubble" in the vacuum of space.

I enjoyed this story because it roughly chronicles the history of both the American and Russian (post-Soviet) space program from its inception to the retrieval of the astronauts aboard the Soyuz capsule.

What particularly drew me to this book was my interest in space. I am also found of...more
iain meek
an in depth story- surely partly fiction given the detail involved- of NASA's expedition 6 sent up on Shuttle mission 113. The poor guys ended up stuck in space for about 6 months after the Challenger disaster stopped their replacement until the Russians sent up a rescue crew.
Some gruesome details about what happens if one is hit by orbital debris.
Some great descriptions of Don Pettits larking around with all sorts of impromptu research in low gravity. Sounds like they ended up having quite a l...more
Erin Elizabeth
Non-fiction written like a novel telling us in EXTREME detail what every person is feeling and thinking at every moment. Even if he had talked to the astronauts and their spouses he still added way too much guessed at emotions. Also according to this author, astronauts come from rural areas because people in cities are incapable of dreaming.
I did like finding out about daily life on the International Space Station, details on the Columbia explosion, and the Soyuz Russian capsule but this book h...more
Ezra Hood
There's a lot of interesting history of NASA and the space program in this book, and also a lot of very cool facts and trivia about what it's like to be in space.

The actual story-- the astronauts on the space station for a lot longer than expected after the space shuttle disintegrated on re-entry-- didn't interest me a ton. But all of the peripheral information was worth the read.

The writing is strained-- the author tries really hard to draw universal lessons from his material. A more modest sco...more
Jim Good
A sugar sweeet story of the three astronauts who were stranded on the space station after the Challenger re-entry crash. Dipicts the austronauts as unabated heros and their wives as victims. The story is an easy read, but fails to deal with how the Challeger investigation was undertaken and why there was a three year hiatus from flying. The story takes the return using the Soviet reentry vehicle as the worst danger in the history ignoring that the Russians have been using it reliably for twenty...more
A really great peak into the life of an astronaut. For a former sportswriter, Chris Jones does an incredible job of painting a picture of what these brave men and women face, both in space and on the ground. Very honest descriptions of the perils of spaceflight, including spacewalks, breakdowns, tasteless food, re-entry, and taking a crap. He also does a great job in explaining why somebody would want to go to space in spite of those perils.

A must read for any space fans!
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