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.
A delightful, illuminating grab bag of space-flight curiosities. -- Kirkus Reviews [Roach's] style is at its most substantial-and most hilarious-in the zero-gravity realm that Packing for Mars explores... As startling as it is funny. -- Janet Maslin - The New York Times A truly funny look at the less majestic aspects of the space program... Roach's writing is supremely accessible, but there's never a moment when you aren't aware of how much research she's done into unexplored reaches of space travel. -- Entertainment Weekly This is the kind of smart, smirky stuff that Roach does so well. -- Geoff Nicholson - San Francisco Chronicle Cool answers to questions about the void you didn't even know you had. -- People An utterly fascinating account, made all the more entertaining by the author's ever-amused tone. -- BookPage An impish and adventurous writer with a gleefully inquisitive mind and stand-up comic's timing. -- Booklist The author's writing comes across as reportorial, but with a clear sense of humor; even the footnotes are used to both informational and comedic effect. -- Time Out New York With an unflinching eye, [Roach] launches readers into the thick of spaceflight's grossest engineering challenges. -- M. G. Lord - The New York Times Book Review Roach's strange enthusiasm for all things oddball ... makes Mars a more than worthy destination. -- Time Roach provides a highly readable, often hilarious, guide. -- Christian Science Monitor Roach deftly guides her readers... They never completely lose sight of the accomplishments of space travel, even as they take delight in the absurdities that, in the end, make those successes all the more sublime. -- Dallas Morning News A more realistic view of life in space than we have ever gotten from a NASA broadcast. -- The Daily Beast It's all about those things NASA doesn't delve into at press conferences. -- BoingBoing