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The Ordinary Spaceman: From Boyhood Dreams to Astronaut

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  226 ratings  ·  42 reviews
What’s it like to travel at more than 850 MPH, riding in a supersonic T-38 twin turbojet engine airplane? What happens when the space station toilet breaks? How do astronauts “take out the trash” on a spacewalk, tightly encapsulated in a space suit with just a few layers of fabric and Kevlar between them and the unforgiving vacuum of outer space?

The Ordinary Spaceman puts
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published June 1st 2015 by University of Nebraska Press
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Robert Frost
May 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing

The Ordinary Spaceman: From Boyhood Dreams to Astronaut, a book written by Astronaut Clayton Anderson is an entertaining and open look at his experiences becoming and being an astronaut. Clay’s journey to becoming an astronaut is a lesson in perseverance; he applied fifteen times before he was accepted. After his training, he flew two space missions. He was onboard the International Space Station (ISS) from June-November of 2007 and then visited the ISS again, in 2010, as part of a 15 day Space
Clay Davis
Oct 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
He is not a run of the mill astronaut. Awesome that he names names in this book. He really wears his heart on his sleeve.
Jul 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Question. If you kept a dream career alive from the age of nine and applied for that dream position fourteen times and subsequently was rejected fourteen times, would you apply the fifteenth time? Well, Clayton Anderson was one who did. On that fifteenth attempt, Anderson was finally accepted into NASA’s astronaut corps. The author’s thirty year career with the space agency, half that time as an engineer and the last half as an astronaut could be reason enough to write a book about his experienc ...more
Jamie Rich
Aug 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing

The Ordinary Spaceman: From Boyhood Dreams to Astronaut by Clayton C. Anderson

I have read many Astronaut Memoirs, and this ranks as one of my favorites. I have also met many astronauts, and "Clay" is among the coolest. He has a gentle sense of humor, and an honesty and integrity that match his (mostly) outstanding career. But really, to me, (just an "Earthbound misfit"), it is love of God, family and (yes) country, that place him head and shoulders above so many of us.
This memoir is not a techn
May 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I haven't actually read the book yet, but I had the honor of meeting the author, Clayton Anderson, at Marcon 50 recently. He's a fantastic story teller in the two ways that matter: He has fantastic stories to tell, and he can tell them in a way that pulls in the audience - the right amount of comedy, seriousness, and colorful descriptions (as well as narrative). If the book is even just half as good as the stories he tells in person, it's going to be hard to hang on to as I pass it from family m ...more
Jun 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book! I really enjoyed reading it. Clay's story is truly inspiring. I appreciated his honest, vulnerable, and humorous approach in telling his story. I laughed, I cried, and I learned more about NASA and space travel than I ever knew before. I have the honor and privilege of knowing Clay and his family, and they are beautiful people inside and out! I wish them all the very best in their next adventure! ...more
Mar 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very descriptive and informative with a touch of humor at every turn. I felt like I was in the book living the experiences right along with Clay.

The life of an astronaut is one of awe and wonder and being able to read a memoir that gives the reader a glimpse of the life is quite an enjoyable ride.
May 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a book!

Clay Anderson has done a terrific job of bleeding his story into a book that all can enjoy. Thanks Clay, for showing the behind-the-scenes of JSC, and your own story.
Gabriel Reyes
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As close as it gets

Anderson's tale help us earthlings to feel what is like to live in space and the amazing effort it takes to get there. Thanks for sharing
Aug 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Clay Anderson knew when he was nine years old that he wanted to grow up to be an astronaut.. He knew it when he witnessed the crew of Apollo 8 circling the Moon on Christmas Eve. His passion for the black took him to NASA first as an intern, and then as employee, where he worked for well over a decade before the last of his fifteen applications to the astronaut program proper landed him a spot in the class of 1996. The Ordinary Astronaut is a memoir of his years at NASA and in the shuttle progra ...more
Tom Callen
Dec 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Interesting read from a local Nebraska product. This is probably the first book from a NASA astronaut that I've read in which the first part of the book wasn't devoted to a career spent as a fighter pilot. I think it shows how NASA has changed over the years that astronauts are no longer cut from a single cloth of material, but the pool is now more varied than ever before.

But back to the book... Mr. Anderson crafts a good story which makes each chapter enjoyable to read. I was especially moved w
Jul 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: space, hardcover
First off let me say that I have been a Clay Anderson fan since his first mission. As a NASA TV junkie during that period I found his irreverence and unique antics a breath of fresh air, and it was a major pick me up while I was enduring an quite dark period of my life. Little did I know that he was experiencing a similar period in his.

That said I very much looked forward to reading this book and was quite pleased to find an autographed copy buried on a shelf of the book store.

This book is dif
Mr Stewart
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book has problems. Chief among them is a lack of organization. No adherence to anything approaching a consistent chronology. Anderson jumps back and forth between events several years apart for no clear reason. It gets very confusing towards the end when he's talking about things he did as preparation PRIOR to either of the missions he has already covered earlier.

Second is a, I believe, misguided choice of subject matter. In Ordinary Spaceman you will find vivid and comprehensive coverage o
Nov 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This book wasn't quite what I expected, but parts were still very interesting nonetheless. The first half of the book was spent describing exactly how the author worked his way up to becoming an astronaut as a small boy from a rural town in Nebraska, actually just 20 minutes or so from where I live. It was a rather inspiring story of hard work and dedication. So it wasn't until the second half of the book that the author actually describes what it was like to go into space and work in the Intern ...more
Ria F
Feb 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A great read - story of how a kid from Nebraska achieves his goal of US astronaut after 15 years and 15 application tries. How he ends up in mgmts "penalty box" which while cutting short his career after the end of the STS program, did allow him to stay himself. The credit he gives his wife, family and faith, as well as the heartbreaking death of his mom a month after he returned to earth. The amazing experiences he has in space, training for space and life in general are a great inspiring read. ...more
Feb 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Clay Anderson describes with his trademark wit a NASA career that lasted 30 years. He first dreamed of becoming an astronaut when he witnessed the Apollo 8 crew orbit the Moon in 1968. He then overcame all the obstacles in his way, including fourteen rejected applications to the astronaut corps and the tragic loss of Columbia after he was finally selected, to live aboard the International Space Station in 2007. His book makes very clear his irreverence, but also the raw emotion he feels about hi ...more
Josen Llave
Aug 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I grew tired of hearing the same generic, sparkling stories of how aspiring engineers and pilots became astronauts. I wanted to see an unfiltered view of the whole process. I read Clay's book and received the realistic viewpoint that I wanted. After reading this and gaining the knowledge knowing that there are plenty of moments that would suck, that make yourself doubt to even apply or become an astronaut, and that seem impossible, I would still apply and keep trying, just like what Clay did. Gr ...more
Apr 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed myself reading this book. It's written in a lighthearted and fun manner, while still capturing all the joy and pain for becoming an astronaut. I would highly recommend the book to anyone looking for a lighthearted read. And for those aspiring astronauts? This book is a must. ...more
Oct 11, 2016 rated it it was ok
Nebraska is proud of our astronaut, Clayton Anderson. Parts of the book were really interesting, but it is frankly way more than I ever wanted to know about astronaut training. It was a book club choice or I probably would not have finished it.
Rakesh Ramakrishnan
Jan 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Too less about space travel and more about vomit and sickness. Expected more from this book. However, becoming an astronaut is no easy joke - so kudos to the author for achieving his boyhood dreams. Keep lookin' up! ...more
Lisa Horsch
Feb 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Clayton Anderson’s personality comes through his stories. His attention to details about his amazing flights in space are fun to read. He worked really hard to fulfill his dream and knows how lucky he is.
Kathy Rhode
Feb 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very interesting look into the life of an astronaut and someone who lived his dream. Told with humor, honesty, and obvious love for his family.
Jonathan Ward
Dec 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read Clay Anderson's entertaining autobiography while on the way to Kansas for a gathering of astronauts. I really enjoyed his writing style. He certainly doesn't pull any punches, and his larger-than-life personality comes through loud and clear. It takes a certain amount of ego to become an astronaut - especially after being rejected more than a dozen times!

When your life is on the line in the knife-edge environment of outer space, there has to be a hyper-attention to detail and an intolera
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is well written and easy to read. I appreciated his honesty as to his faults and the lessons he has learned. Anderson reveals the human side of spaceflight and shows that astronauts are human too. They all have strengths, weaknesses, successes, and failures. Of the many astronaut memoirs I have read, this is one of the few to illustrate the competitiveness within the astronaut corps and show that it's not just one big happy family full of sunshine, unicorns, and rainbows. Anderson has ...more
Dec 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As a child of the Space Race (I was in elementary school when Sputnik flew overhead), I have long had a fascination with the world of spaceflight, aeronautics, and exploration. I've read the best books from many other astronauts, including the pioneers of the NASA program. Anderson's "The Ordinary Spaceman" quickly jumped into my top five for books of this type. I found the writing style friendly, humorous at times, and always engaging. There's some good stuff in here, but don't look for the ove ...more
Robert Johnson
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
An excellent book. Clayton Anderson has written one of the most honest astronaut memoirs ever published. Pulling no punches and often naming names, he entertainingly talks about the lows and highs of his astronaut career. Anderson’s refreshing honesty memoir has produced a frank, well written and above all supremely informative account about being a contemporary astronaut. I highly recommend it to any one who is interested in spaceflight. It was a fun book to read.
Kellie Thiem
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I bought this book after meeting Clayton Anderson while touring NASA. He was very kind and personable and I was very excited for this book! The beginning was a little tough to get into, but after that the rest was well worth it. My only complaint was the timeline jumped back and forth quite a bit.
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book describing life as an astronaut. Having worked with Clay on both of his missions, I'm admittedly biased, but it's still a great book. ...more
Shambhavi Pandey
Apr 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Scott Kardel
Jun 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: space
I read a lot of astronaut autobiographies and, like the title says, Clayton Anderson's is somewhat ordinary. If you are looking for one there are much better and inspirational choices. ...more
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