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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

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  428 Ratings  ·  81 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
Kindle Edition, 310 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2007)
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Petar X
May 19, 2016 Petar X is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Update. This is really funny to imagine. The tools on the ISS are kept in a bar fridge-size box. When it is opened all the tools are tethered with difference lengths of string. They all float out on their own trajectorie, bobbing and weaving and enterwining as the astronauts try and herd them all together and attempt to untangle them before they all knot up. Everyone apparently dreads opening it.

Three small updates. 1. Funny one. The Americans on discovering that pens don't work in sp
May 25, 2014 K rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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 liked it  ·  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
Lisa Kren
Mar 10, 2009 Lisa Kren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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:)
Jun 25, 2007 Grumpus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
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.
Feb 07, 2012 Bree rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 50-12
Oh, that all nonfiction were this well written.
When the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated over the central United States in February 2003, the accident stranded the three crewmembers of the International Space Station without their intended ride home to earth. The Expedition 6 crew--Nikolai Budarin, Ken Bowersox and Don Pettit--was originally supposed to return to earth in March 2003 aboard space shuttle Atlantis. But, the Columbia accident grounded the space shuttle fleet (for more than two years), and Expedition 6 was forced to return i ...more
Sep 24, 2010 Eric rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 30, 2013 Kirk Battle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 12, 2009 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, travel, science
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
Jan 19, 2012 Marsha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 24, 2014 April rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really, this book should have just been about Don Pettit. He's awesome. I think if there wasn't so much about him and his wife in here it wouldn't have been as good of a read. He carried the story. Read it if you're really into astronauts and their sort of day to day stuff, because it wasn't a gripping suspense.


This book lost a star for not being whatever suspenseful crazy story it's advertised. The bit about los
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
Feb 21, 2014 Matthew Ciarvella rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
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
Jun 23, 2016 Margaret rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
DNF. After 100 pages I just had to throw in the towel on this one. I am very interested in learning more about the story of the three astronauts who were on the space station when the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated, but this book just is not very good. There is a lot of unnecessary filler and just over the top descriptive passages that sometimes just don't make any sense. There are also some just preposterous statements that are stated as unquestionable facts--like 'city kids don't have th ...more
Jul 12, 2015 Amanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book! It provides a very intense look at the series of events the unfolded when three astronauts remained circling the earth in the international space station and seven were lost as Columbia attempted to return home.

I'm not usually a fan of nonfiction, but Chris Jones knows how to draw you in. He makes you feel like you know all the players involved - both crews and those on the ground. It was shocking to be reminded of a lot of things that I'd forgotten - and to learn quite a few thi
Hari Balaji
This book is amazing for someone looking for a good non-fiction book to read. However, I must say that I prefer any fiction to this, however I'm pretty biased on that front. Furthermore, this book teaches you a lot about the struggles astronauts undergo to go to space stations. Also, the book provides an astronauts perspective on things, and that is very unique. Finally, I must say that this book is really good for anyone who wants to read a good non fiction book, however I myself personally wou ...more
I don't give out one-star reviews very often, but when I do, they are earned. This one is especially earned. My copy is still simmering from my enraged marginalia.

I bought this trade paperback, Out of Orbit, rather recently in a local used bookstore. It didn't dawn on me until sometime later that this version was renamed from the original hardcover printing, which was titled Too Far from Home--a book which I had had on my Goodreads want list. I wondered why the title had been changed between pri
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
Aug 15, 2010 rabbitprincess rated it really liked it  ·  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
Lucy Landry
Jun 23, 2015 Lucy Landry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Uh oh. You're an astronaut on the International Space Station, with enough food and other supplies to get you comfortably through to the end of your mission, but you just found out that the shuttle that was supposed to take you home has just blown to bits. Now what?
Well written, with a variety of different people's perspectives. It's a good reminder of how risky space travel can be. And it's a good look at the "right stuff" that astronauts (and cosmonauts) are made of.
May 22, 2016 Ashley marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Own in hardback.

FS: "Only minutes earlier, they had been something else - something big enough to be held in the hearts of millions - and soon they would be that big again, but now they were just three men in a bucket floating on the ocean, still far from home."

LS: "Even when he checks his watch, sneaks through his front door late at night, sets up his telescope on his lawn, and follows the space station on its long journey through the universe, he can feel cut off from his home as if by a wa
Oct 10, 2011 Shannon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Apr 16, 2010 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 24, 2013 Victor T. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 27, 2007 Abby Johnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 17, 2008 Earlwalkinkle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: earl-s-favorites
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:

Jan 26, 2016 Paige rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science
I had heard about this story during a recent rebroadcast on NPR with Don Pettit and his wife, Micki. I was intrigued, especially so after I randomly came across this book at the library. Such an interesting story and compelling ending. I always love reading about life in space and this book was excellent. The stressful rescue was tense and exciting to read about as well.
Mar 25, 2014 Trailhoundz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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