The Astronaut Instruction Manual
October 19, 2015 6:27 PM   Subscribe

The Astronaut Instruction Manual
It's an astronaut instruction manual. For pre-teens.

Almost a decade ago, at age 42, it dawned on me I was not going to get to be an astronaut.

Seeing as this thought was potentially devastating to my inner-11 year old, I was immediately forced to recalibrate. "What's the next best thing to astronaut?" I pondered, "What is the career I can do that will allow me to live out second half of my life without having become an astronaut?"

And the answer hit me immediately: astronaut teacher.

Since that time, I have earned the reputation as one of the day's go-to STEM educator for everything to do with students and space. I often speak before conference and professional groups on how to engage with young students. And I frequently speak before groups of students about how to get hired in aerospace.

But most of all, I am constantly engaging with students inside and outside the US to encourage their pursuing of careers in space, space-science, and space-related fields. This year I even astronaut taught in Cuba, not once but twice. It is the best job I ever imagined. It is real work (I work with high school students too), I love it. I love space and I love being the educator giving students to imagine a space future with themselves in it.

Which is why I wrote and last year successfully crowdfunded the mass-market publication (through inkshares/Ingram) of The Astronaut Instruction Manual. Finally, this week, after a year of pre-production, copy-editing, proofreading, graphic design, and marketing, The AIM was published and it is now on bookshelves and in bookstores all over the US. And students are reading it.

All of which is lovely and nice. (Even the reviews have been generous.) What makes the reception and fanfare especially awesome is that I put my heart and soul into my work and into this book. And that is for two reasons. The first is because when I grew up no one ever told me I could grow up to live, work and play in space. Every student and every classroom of students with which I now have the great privilege of engaging will never be able to say that. (This means a great deal to my inner-11 year old).

The second reason has to do with an understanding which came about and developed over many years of teaching and engaging with students about future careers in space, and that is this:

We discover the solutions to every challenge we face on earth today–energy, health, sustainability, inclusion, equality, even prosperity–by solving for the challenges of space.

Space is 100 miles away. Like Robert Heinlein said, once you reach low-earth orbit you're halfway to anywhere in the solar system. My corollary to that once you're halfway to reaching anywhere in the solar system, you're close to all the answers.

I wrote The Astronaut Instruction Manual for the 9-year old who is intelligent and thoughtful; the 10-year old who openly dreams about our space future; the 11-year old who fervently reads books at night from under the covers with a flashlight; the 12-year old who needs to hear their dream of being one of the next generation of space explorers from planet earth is both valid and good; and even the 13-teen year old who wildly imagines a space future of filled with fun and excitement and hope and possibility. (It is this in mind that 13-year old "future mars walker" Alyssa Carson wrote the book's forward.)

Tomorrow's space jobs are not only astronaut; they are space veterinarian, space firefighter, space chef, space biologist, space miner, space designer, even space athlete. Space jobs are nearly any job you can imagine on earth, only in space.

Now how about this: Want to be the coolest grown-up in the room? I wrote this book so as to be the most cool gift any aunt or uncle or neighbor or teacher or parent could give a favorite niece, nephew, neighbor kid, student, or daughter or son.

When I was growing up I wanted to be an astronaut. One day, I discovered I had grown up only to have not become an astronaut. And so I wrote The Astronaut Instruction Manual for all of us who is anything like me and wants to make sure the next generation of space explorers spring up from this generation's students who we let know: Tomorrow's jobs? They are in space!*

*Regardless of gender, economic background, racial identity, sexual preference, physical make-up, level of ability or disability, religion or nationality. Like Christa McAuliffe so wisely stated, "Space is for everybody."

PS if you don't think it is odd writing about my own book and my own self on Mefi, even on Mefi Projects, you may have not been long on the blue. It is downright unsettling. Signed, humannaire neé Mike Mongo.
Role: author
posted by Mike Mongo (1 comment total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
This project was posted to MetaFilter by joseph conrad is fully awesome on October 20, 2015: "What's the next best thing to astronaut?"

Bravo Alyssa! Fantastic video and a great book too I hope. Just bought it! I hope you make it to being the first person to Mars!
posted by ChristosM at 10:10 AM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

« Older "An old dad, a young mom"...   |   Tetrakinesis... Newer »

You are not currently logged in. Log in or create a new account to post comments.