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

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  518 Ratings  ·  95 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 February 23rd 2007)
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Petra X
It's a very entertaining book for such a harrowing story. The astronauts Donald Pettit, Kenneth Bowersox and the cosmonaut Nikolai Budarin were on a 14 week mission on the International Space Station when the Columbia shuttle blew up, killing all seven people on board and leaving the men on the ISS with no way of getting home. They lived a day to day existence, making the food last and hoping that NASA would come through in time. They did, the three of them squashed into a little capsule and sho ...more
May 22, 2014 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
Jun 25, 2007 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.
May 24, 2011 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 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:)
Feb 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 50-12, non-fiction
Oh, that all nonfiction were this well written.
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was less technical and more beautiful than I expected. Which is not to say it wasn't informative. I learned more about the American and Russian space programs than I thought I wanted to know. And I confirmed that I never, ever, ever want to go into space. But I'm glad others do, and I'm glad Chris Jones wrote about them.
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
Kirk Battle
Sep 30, 2013 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
Sep 24, 2010 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
Jul 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, history, travel
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 08, 2012 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
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
Jul 24, 2014 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
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
Dec 05, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This got on my radar because Mary Roach mentions it in Packing for Mars. And I was pleasantly surprised. It was a lot more interesting than I was expecting it to be considering the author wasn't actually there for any of these events. There's a really great mix of background information and forward motion. At first I really wasn't sure about all the extra information we were given, but I realized when I finished that I really dug it. This was a solid read.
Natalie Stagnone
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While there was some out-lieing boring information given, the premise and intensity of this book was incredible. It was able to transform space and thoroughly explain the daily life and background of space and each of these men. It was truly an inspirational and compelling novel to read - and listen to!
Corbett Buchly
I enjoyed learning about the details of life in space. My only negative would be the book jacket which seemed to oversell the suspense factor in this story. I didn't need the suspense; it was a well written tale about stranded astronauts.
Heath Condiotte
Interesting read, but dragged a bit
This was an interesting story, but the book was simply too long. I imagine some readers enjoyed the extensive profiles of various individuals; however, for me, they simply went into too much detail, and there were too many of them. Ultimately, I jumped through some of these sections, so I could complete the book.
What I enjoyed the most were the various descriptions of the Soviet (and then Russian) space program. The author covered a good deal of the programs history as well as it present state,
May 19, 2010 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
Matthew Ciarvella
Feb 12, 2014 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
Neil Cake
I don't have too much to add to what other reviewers have revealed about this. It seems to me that it could have been improved by being a history of space stations. Instead it purports to be about one particular mission, but gets there by way of a history of space travel and various specific missions along the way. Other reviewers have pointed out that there clearly wasn't enough content in the main story, so it needed to be padded out. Why bother padding it out when you could just make it about ...more
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
Apr 16, 2010 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 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
Sep 20, 2011 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
Jun 19, 2016 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
Mar 17, 2008 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:

Abby Johnson
Apr 20, 2007 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
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Chris Jones was born in London in 1973. He has written for Canada's National Post since 1998 and won the Edward Goff Penny Memorial Prize for outstanding young journalists in 1999 (Over 25,00 Circulation category). He lives in Toronto.

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