Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday: “Endurance” by Scott Kelly

sky earth space working
Photo by Pixabay on

Someone lived in space for a year. His name is Scott Kelly, and Endurance: My Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery is his story. I think that pretty much sums up the value of this book. Side note: the quotes I selected below don’t do the book justice; the beauty of it is in Kelly’s descriptions of the mundane, daily activities of life in space.

Key Takeaways

  • On the International Space Station: “The ISS is a remarkable achievement of technology and international cooperation. It has been inhabited nonstop since November 2, 2000; put another way, it has been more than fourteen years since all humans were on the Earth at once. It is by far the longest-inhabited structure in space and has been visited by more than two hundred people from sixteen nations. It’s the largest peacetime international project in history.”
  • On landing the space shuttle: “The very complexity of the space shuttle was why I wanted to fly it. But learning these systems and practicing in the simulators—learning how to respond to the myriad of interrelated malfunctions in the right way—showed me how much more complicated this spacecraft was than anything I could have imagined. There were more than two thousand switches and circuit breakers in the cockpit, more than a million parts, and almost as many ways for me to screw up. The amount I learned in order to go from a new ASCAN to a pilot on my first mission was, from what I could observe, an education comparable to getting a PhD. Our days were packed with classes, simulations, and other training.”
  • On the moments before takeoff: “The space shuttle, fully fueled with cryogenic liquid, creaked and groaned. Soon this sixteen-story structure was going to lift off the Earth in a controlled explosion. For a moment I thought to myself, Boy, this is a really dumb thing to be doing.”
  • “There is a NASA tradition, which some crews follow more closely than others, of pulling pranks on rookies. When the Astrovan pulled up to the launchpad, I said offhandedly to Tracy, Barb, and Alvin, “Hey, you guys remembered to bring your boarding passes, right?” They looked at one another quizzically as the four of us veterans pulled preprinted boarding passes out of our pockets. ‘Don’t tell me you didn’t bring your boarding passes! They won’t let you on the space shuttle without one!’ I insisted. After an initial look of panic crossed their faces, the three rookies quickly caught on.”
  • “On his fourth flight, in 2008, Yuri’s Soyuz landed so far from his intended touchdown point, the local Kazakh farmers who came upon his steaming spacecraft had no idea what it was. When he and his two female crewmates, Peggy Whitson and Yi So-yeon, emerged from the capsule, the Kazakhs mistook him for an alien god who had come from space with his own supply of women. Had the rescue forces not arrived, I suspect the farmers would have appointed him their leader.”

About the Author

Scott Kelly is an American astronaut, engineer, and retired U.S. Navy captain. He was born on February 21, 1964, in Orange, New Jersey, United States. Kelly is renowned for his contributions to space exploration and his record-breaking mission on the International Space Station (ISS).

Kelly joined NASA in 1996 and became an astronaut in 1999. Throughout his career, he participated in several space missions, including space shuttle flights and long-duration stays on the ISS. However, his most notable achievement came during his year-long mission on the ISS from March 2015 to March 2016. This mission, known as the “One-Year Mission,” aimed to study the effects of long-term spaceflight on the human body, specifically comparing Kelly’s physiological and psychological changes with his identical twin brother Mark Kelly, who remained on Earth.

During his year in space, Scott Kelly conducted various scientific experiments, participated in spacewalks, and documented his experiences through photographs and social media. His mission provided valuable insights into the physical and psychological challenges of long-duration space travel and helped pave the way for future manned missions to Mars and beyond.

Scott Kelly’s achievements in space and his contributions to scientific research have earned him numerous accolades, including the NASA Distinguished Service Medal and the Russian Medal for Merit in Space Exploration. He is recognized as a prominent figure in the field of space exploration and continues to inspire others with his remarkable journey and dedication to pushing the boundaries of human exploration in space.


Can’t quite get to all the nonfiction and self-help books that interest you? Read Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday here.


Babies come. But babies don't go. Get Fights You’ll Have After Having a Baby: A Self-Help Story on Amazon now.