Space…the final frontier: where intrepid heroes break free from the mortal bonds of Mother Earth to experience such singular marvels as:1 Fecal popcorning (definition forthcoming);2 Condomshaped urinal devices (with different sizes for, um, different sizes); 3 Weightless Flight Regurgitation Phenomenon (Hint: turns out gravity is a vital part of both swallowing food and keeping it locked down in the tummy); 4 The pleasures, subject to NASA regulations, of ZeroG copulation; and5 The breathtaking beauty of witnessing a “sunillumined flurry of flashfrozen wastewater droplets” against the blackness of space.Plus, these right stuffers get to enjoy the potentially fatal dangers of vomiting during a spacewalk, and, ironically, the related joy of consuming food substances comprised primarily of “melted lard, milk protein, Knox gelatin, cornstarch, sucrose.” As she states early in this funpacked romp through the history of space exploration, “Space doesn’t just encompass the sublime and the ridiculous It erases the line between.” Well, this book does exactly that, and Mary Roach deserves a standing ovation for skillfully balancing wellresearched, interesting facts, with hilarious “insider” anecdotes, and wrapping it up in a presentation that is entertaining from start to finish Lighthearted yet detailed, Roach navigates her material with a high degree of deft and provides information on a range of topics in a manner that is easily digestible (unlike some of the space food discussed) Despite my lopsided references above to thehumorous topics addressed, there's a little bit of everything in this survey of humanity’s sojourns into the void Ms Roach provides fascinating information on numerous topics, both scientific and practical, highlighting the challenges of space exploration A few of the less comical, but just as interesting, chapters include discussions on:** The various psychological problems that arise as a result of extended isolation, including madness, euphoria and suicidal tendencies.** The almost unimaginable complications involved in trying to heft a Earthmade object, carrying oxygenbreathing mammals into a airless, zero gravity environment “Apollo 8 has 5,600,000 parts…Even if all functioned with 99.9 percent reliability, we could expect 5,600 defects.” Since any one of those defects could lead to disaster, the amount of testing and preparation involved is similarly staggering ** The affects that extended weightlessness has on the human body, from loss of bone density and muscle tone, to the actual shifting of organs in side the body ** The dramatic change in the optimum qualities making up the “right stuff” in today’s space program, versus those required in the early days of space flight However, I admit that it was when Mary delved into those “little discussed” areas where natural human functions intersected with the challenges of space that I had the most fun In particular, the struggle with ingesting and evacuating foodstuffs (and I use that word loosely) while in the cramped, awkward, shared confinement of a space module was a veritable golden shower of poop jokes and naughty bit references, sure to please the inner, developmentallyarrested child in you* Therefore, as promised above, here is fecal popcorning, as described by Ms Roach: Because everything else is frozen, the material that’s going in, depending on how hard the stool is, has a tendency to bounce off the walls You’ve seen the old airpop popcorn machines? There’s an air flow in there and it’s kind of circulating That material’s just floating around in the air stream, and it tends to come back up the tube Howdy doody What really makes the above quote work is Roach’s perfect delivery of the last two words, and that kind of welltimed, clever humor peppers the narrative By the way, fecal popcorning is not even close to the most uncomfortable feature of spacebased defection, but I will leave the other nuggets for you to discover on your own As funny as this can be, in the end, what really sets this apart from simple comedy shtick, which would get old very fast, is how much information Mary effortlessly imparts and her obvious admiration for the men and women involved From lectures on gforces assailing the body, to the unnatural effect of zeroG, to the myriad of other extreme mental and physical stresses to which the body is subjected, Mary will leave you with a heightened appreciation for the courage of these unique people Also, underlying all of the lightheartedness and the humorous anecdotes is the message of the wonders of space exploration, the aweinspiring dedication of the people that carry it out, and the importance to the human spirit that such endeavors continue Even the funny bits, in addition to serving up yucks, serve to increase the positive perception of these mythic figures known as astronauts by creating ahuman connection with the rest of us I want to end with what I found to be the most moving passage in the entire book In it, Mary Roach sums up her attitude towards space exploration, while responding to those that argue that the money spent on such luxuries a manned excursion to Mars would be better spent on the ground The nobility of the human spirit grows harder for me to believe in War, zealotry, greed, malls, narcissism I see a backhanded nobility in excessive, impractical outlays of cash prompted by nothing loftier than a species joining hands and saying “I bet we can do this.” Yes, the money could be better spent on Earth But would it? Since when has money saved by government redlining been spent on education and cancer research? It is always squandered Let’s squander some on Mars Let’s go out and play Well said, Ms Roach, well said 4.0 stars HIGHLY RECOMMENDED* I admit that two full chapters on bowel movements began to wear a little thin at the end, but that's just me. The bestselling author of Stiff and Bonk explores the irresistibly strange universe of space travel and life without gravity Space is a world devoid of the things we need to live and thrive: air, gravity, hot showers, fresh produce, privacy, beer Space exploration is in some ways an exploration of what it means to be human How much can a person give up? How much weirdness can they take? What happens to you when you can’t walk for a year? have sex? smell flowers? What happens if you vomit in your helmet during a space walk? Is it possible for the human body to survive a bailout at , miles per hour? To answer these questions, space agencies set up all manner of quizzical and startlingly bizarre space simulations As Mary Roach discovers, it’s possible to preview space without ever leaving Earth From the space shuttle training toilet to a crash test of NASA’s new space capsule cadaver filling in for astronaut, Roach takes us on a surreally entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth I’m a big space geek and have spent countless hours reading or watching documentaries about manned space flight I’ve seen a space shuttle launch and been through the Kennedy Space Center a couple of times I went and saw the traveling exhibit of Gus Grissom’s capsule that was retrieved from the ocean floor and refurbished So I thought I knew something about NASA and astronauts.However, I’d never heard the phrase 'fecal popcorning' before.These are the kind of tidbits you get in Packing for Mars Mary Roach takes a light hearted but fascinating look at all the research and projects that go into putting and keeping people in space This isn’t about the rockets or the life support systems, it’s about the seeminglymundane stuff like hygiene, the effects of isolation, longterm health risks, time management, safety devices, nutrition and human waste disposal (Actually, wayabout the waste disposal than I really wanted to know Which is where the fecal popcorning came into it Thanks for that, NASA!)This stuff may seem trivial, but as Roach illustrates when it comes to living in a sealed zerogravity environment nothing is easy Something as simple as trying to get some exercise to prevent the deterioration of bone mass involves countless hours of study on earth, including a research center where subjects are paid thousands of dollars to spend a month in bed (Read the fine print before you rush to sign up It's not quite as good as it sounds.)Roach strikes the perfect tone of treating the various subjects seriously while still injecting a lot of humor when it’s called for She’s also willing to do farthan I would for a book including drinking her own recycled urine and using the space toilet trainer that has a camera in it so that astronauts can see parts of themselves that no person was meant to see as they orient themselves to do a *ahem* docking maneuver (Seriously, there’s a lot of poop in this book.)While reading it, I kept thinking of the argument that’s been made that putting people into space is dangerous and wasteful So much of what’s done becomes just about keeping the astronauts alive that the science tends to get lost Especially considering what’s been accomplished with far less money on projects like the Hubble telescope and the Mars rovers However, Roach has a short but passionate argument at the end where she outlines why she thinks all of this is so cool and necessary, and why people should go to Mars And you know what? She sold me.Entertaining, informative and filled with funny stories and bits of trivia, I enjoyed this one a lot But it’s gotpoop than a Jonathan Franzen novel so beware if you’re squeamish. Roach is well known for her earlier books, Stiff (about human cadavers), Bonk (science and sex) and Spook (the afterlife) In Packing, she takes on the US space program, and how it’s dealt with many of the everyday biological issues we take for granted– such as washing, eating, and urinating However, willingness to take on the scatological is just part of her hook; she integrates information about the program in general as well as Earthbased research supporting it.I learned a lotof the early space program than I expected, usually palatable due to Roach’s inclusion of either direct interview or historical quotes from astronauts and scientists Initial sleepiness from the material was chased away once I reached the chapter “The Cadaver in the Space Capsule” onward The section on food and nutrition was horrifying, as well as the section on defecating I have to confess, I’ve never been much of a space junkie, but I love science fiction and biology and this was a fascinating read once I was past the beginning hurdles Roach’s humorous asides added a dash levity to a potentially dry subject I had never really thought about the extent to which astronauts sacrifice their personal privacy; she has a hysterical transcript from Mission Control where controllers are asking about astronaut flatulence Roach even explores some of the ongoing studies impacting space travel One covered in some detail is an Earthbased study examining the impact of 3 months of bed rest on bone structure, and the poor people who volunteered for it A note for those who like accuracy in titles: much in the book does not specifically has to do with Mars missions, just issues regarding living in space.The book had an extra impact of nostalgia back when I read this–it was close to the last shuttle launch Sad now to see so much of the program being planned for obsolescence when it was an international preoccupation for decades Thank you, astronauts for your sacrifices.Laugh out loud lines:“Is he leaking badly from anything major?”“The whole procedure will unfold exactly as it would with a live patient, right down to a fortyfiveminute wait and a problem with the billing.”“The staff played hot potato with my call until someone could locate the Person in Charge of Lying to the Press.”Cross posted at Note: the dolphinsex thing appears to be a hoax Shame that I like the idea of space sex having to be a threesome.Why the Space Program Costs so Much Because its run by a load of backwardthinking dickheads, contrary to what you might think.Mary Roach seems to have an obsession with poo I did actually want to know about toilet facilities in space, but not twochapters worth of knowledge Similarly a chapter about sex, although noone apart from one Russian wanker (literally) actually admits to having it at all The author does make the point though that weightlessness might make union difficult unless one employed a third person to push the two together, much like dolphins apparently do in the equally weightless medium of water.I wanted to know muchabout questions the author chose not to address to do with food, leisure time Do they watch movies, read books or just go for a stroll? How did they do their hair, did it grow faster or slower on the space station? Did they grow food of any kind? What about insects did any of those find themselves on a trip to space and what happened to them if they did? Loads of thingsWhat I did learn was that anything built for space is subject to one restriction it must be as small and light as possible as each extra pound costs thousands of dollars in the extra thrust needed to send it into space However, there are certain taboos that cannot be overcome and the governments of both the USA and Russia are willing to spend out all the extra money in the world to make sure that men, as ever, not matter how fake it is, reign supreme.Women are smaller, lighter and consequently generally eat less food, drink less water and breathe less air so naturally they should be the astronauts NASA could raise only one objection to women in space which obviously must have been solved by now, as there are female astronauts, that urine droplets do not separate from the genitals and pubic hair 'cleanly' as they do in men I'm not joking Have they never heard of or couldn't they invent one? So essentially the whole space program would be muchcosteffective if women were astronauts and men, unless they were quite little, stayed home and looked after the babies But we couldn't have that, could we? American values count for ! 3.5 I recently read This was a fascinating trip Really I learned a lot about seals, black bears, dolphins, rats, dogs and chimps En route I also learned something about astronauts and their way of life in space And this kind of life is not at all what I had imagined even in my wildest dreams Let me warn you, if you've ever fantasized about taking a vacation in space, you should read this book first The comfort in a space hotel is basic, even if you paid billions of dollars for a 5twinklingstar hotel If you consider yourself a hygienic person, you don't want to book a space hotel There are no showers! And not being able to chance your socks for several days, can be a real downer for your cotravelers If you love a wellprepared meal, you don't want to visit space either Space hotels hire veterinarians to cook your meals Also, a comfortable toilet is out of the question Holding the astronewspaper while hovering above the toilet is no mean feat to do If you don't mind to face all these uncomfortable conditions, just to enjoy a nice, dreamlike stroll in space, be prepared to do some bungeejumping during your spacewalk Scubadivers however, will feel comfortable in space muchlikely than the average hiker Don't expect that you will meet many people during your stay in space This is a solitary trip Before you depart for the stars, you should ask your therapist if you are up to it If you love to socialize during your travels, you better visit Spain Couples that want to make love in space, should consider bringing a third person to help out I really don't advice this trip to newlyweds Even if a honeymoon on the moon sounds really romantic, it could be devastating for a young couple's future sexlife Also, delivering a baby in space is not something you want to do, however awesome it sounds The baby could be traumatized for the rest of its earthly life The flight to your space hotel can be really nasty too Ever been sick in a car or on a ship? You've seen (felt) nothing yet Being deafmute is an advantage though And landing back on earth after an adventurous travel, can be really bumpy Don't even think about making this trip if you have osteoporoses Score: 7/10 Rating: 4.5* of fiveThe Publisher Says: Space is a world devoid of the things we need to live and thrive: air, gravity, hot showers, fresh produce, privacy, beer Space exploration is in some ways an exploration of what it means to be human How much can a person give up? How much weirdness can they take? What happens to you when you can’t walk for a year? have sex? smell flowers? What happens if you vomit in your helmet during a space walk? Is it possible for the human body to survive a bailout at 17,000 miles per hour? To answer these questions, space agencies set up all manner of quizzical and startlingly bizarre space simulations As Mary Roach discovers, it’s possible to preview space without ever leaving Earth From the space shuttle training toilet to a crash test of NASA’s new space capsule (cadaver filling in for astronaut), Roach takes us on a surreally entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth.My Review: I deeply envy those not claustrophobic or clumsy or tallthey can aspire to astronautcy, where I for reasons here presented, cannot Fatness, it seems, was once mooted by a NASA consultant, as a desideratum20 kilos of fat = 184,000 calories! Why send food up? Fat folks can do a little slimming and science at the same time!Leaving aside the DonnerPartyinSpace horrors of the clueless and thin, Mary Roach's delight of a book is packed with interesting and surprising research, her own and others's I can't imagine *how* anyone came up with zerogravity toilet research subjects Filming you at this well, ummm, intimate moment of activity? Discovering thereby that uhhhh curls form in zero G? *shudder*And Roach, as readers of previous books (Bonk, Spook) know, is irreverent to the point of being a female frat boy about everydamnthing, and completely unafraid to deploy wit and sarcasm at the drop of acheese curl She's funny, she's curious, she's smart, and damn it all, she's married.So she marshals a raft of facts in her quest to know, and impart to us, necessary background information and bizarre little sidetrails of information about the quest of the US and (now) Russian governments to put and keep humans in space Each chapter tackles different specialties in the space race: food, water, safe arrival and departure, etc etc Her completely unserious side is always on display, and makes what would otherwise be a government briefing document (anyone who has ever read a government briefing document will attest that there is no reading mattereffective in inducing shortterm coma) into a sparkling, sprightly tour of a quixotic, hugely expensive boondoggle.At the end of this particular garden path that Mary's leading us down is a manned mission to Mars She asks baldly, Is Mars worth it? All the moneyhalf a trillion bucks!all the risk, all the inevitable bureaucratic wrangling.Benjamin Franklin said it best: Asked what use the first manned balloon flights were, Franklin replied, What use is a newborn baby?Exactly This work is licensed under a Creative Commons AttributionNonCommercialShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. This was a fun read, lots of information and odd (sometimes disgusting in the 'don't eat while reading' way) facts Fun facts about space travel, things that happen(ed) on earth and up there, with footnotes here and there There is a timeline (19492003) and a bibliography at the end.Things included include who gets in, on isolation and confinement, keeping your sanity, lack of gravity, throwing up, crash tests, animals used (Albert, Ham, Enos and others not named), plans of travel to Mars, on washing yourself and toilet time, sleeping, sex, getting down from there, food, and future hopes (Felix Baumgartner appear here, not yet having jumped out of that Red Bull thing, which happened in 2012, a bit over a year after the book came out.)Actions: getting the US flag right for the first moon landing, making origami cranes, the lubedbutt slide test, missing the nature while up there, trying to save Jimi Hendrix, defrosting a cadaver, faking a seatbelt malfunction, taking little bunny sniffs, black bears' winter hibernation, spying on seals' mating rituals, the corned beef sandwich incident of 1965, muslim prayer options in spaceObjects: NASA tv channel, helmet vomit, turkey vulture vomit (a delicacy for coyotes), Tomb of the Unknown Dog (in Russia), stinky pressure suits, cheese bacteria, decomposing clothes, a snorkel, hipsqueezing machine, dolphin genitals, the finger insert in the pooping bag, frozen poop storage space, fecal dust, little Communion packages, farts, the Phoenix lander (working 20082010).Why: hot tubs are not so good an idea, if in a car it's better being hit from the front is better than from the sides for the human body, astronauts are on their backs, jumping from a plane (the big usual type) is a bad idea.I'm pretty sure leaving food chapter until last chapters was a good idea I did feel pity for the animals, but it's good they were mentioned But anyway, this was a fun, sometimes gross, a read and really informative Like climbing the Everest, for me it's interesting to read about it, and also a relief not to have to experience some downsides of it (or whatever direction things here are currently pointing towards *lol*). Mary Roach is a funny woman I guess that's what you get when no subject is taboo and she has the charm to pull it all off :)What does she pull off? A full, scientifically accurate look at the little stuff in life Astronauts living in space was ratherthe focus That's okay We're not quite ready to go to Mars But at least we're ready to drink our pee! Yay!Seriously though, beyond the last quarter of the book being devoted to floating poo in a very fun and educational way, the whole book is a serious work of scholarship, investigation, and interview We can throw out a lot of the myths and add a whole lot of true facts to our bags thanks to this nonfiction.I honestly had a great time reading it And since this is my second Mary Roach, I think I may be plunging ahead to read:) Yay!