I am the world’s biggest fan of The Big Bang Theory. I’m talking uber fangirl here. Like, if there was a Big Bang Theory trivia contest, you want me on your team. We would win EVERYTHING! So when I saw that the resident Big Bang Theory real astronaut (sorry Howard) had written a book, I was in. If you don’t remember, Mike “Mass” Massimino is the astronaut who gives Howard his nickname, Froot Loops – which honestly, I think is pretty cool.
Mass seems like the nicest guy, but before I read his book I had no idea that he was crazy smart, too. He would probably say that he’s not the smartest guy at NASA, but we’re talking Columbia undergrad and MIT grad school. And unlike Howard Wolowitz, Mass did get his doctorate. After being an astronaut, he is now a professor at Columbia, teaching classes like Introduction to Human Space Flight. That qualifies as Jeopardy smart in my book.
Dr. Massimino went to space twice – both times to work on and upgrade the Hubble telescope. This, I learned, was a horribly prestigious thing to have done. It also may have saved his life. In March 2002, Mass and the rest of the crew of STS-109 shot into space to fix the degrading Hubble telescope. They flew on the shuttle Columbia. The STS-107 crew was supposed to fly first, but because they were just doing small experiments in space and not fixing the most famous telescope in the world, Mass’s crew got bumped in front of them. The STS-109 had a successful and safe mission. The Hubble was fixed and everybody made it home safely.
STS-107 took off for their delayed mission in January 2003. Initially their mission was a success, but the crew never made it home. Parts of Columbia broke off during the launch, which then compromised the shuttle during re-entry. Columbia disintegrated in the sky over East Texas and all seven crew members were lost. The only reason that STS-109 took STS-107’s place is because of the importance of the Hubble telescope.
That’s mind blowing, right?
I’m not a big space person, but I really enjoyed this book. Mass tells a great story and I kinda want to be his friend. I now understand why they picked him to be their astronaut contact on The Big Bang Theory. If you want to read a good book about a good guy, this one’s for you.
Spaceman: An Astronaut's Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe
He went to space and he's on TV. How cool is that?