Book review: Spaceman – Mike Massamino


Mike (his NASA colleagues call him ‘Mass’ and so will I) is an amazing storyteller. If you read this book, maybe consider getting it on, as ‘Mass’ narrates his own words and journey.

Mass’s New York accent is working class-cool and fits right in with ‘The Right Stuff.’ But, instead of death-defying Air Force test pilots, we have PhD-wielding engineers and physicists competing to be the one-in-ten-thousand astronaut candidate.

I remember having watched Neil Armstrong in 1969. I was a 6-year old, and remembered some fuzzy black-and-white images, a big party of adults in our apartment, and being allowed to stay up late. I had been fascinated with space Science over the years.

I remember getting my own elementary-aged kids excited over watching the NASA channel during the landing of Spirit and Opportunity on Mars. Nothing visual interesting to see, just listening and watching the Command Center wait in hushed tones for the signal of a successful landing and the entire room of scientists and engineers erupting into tears of relief and shouts of joy. We raised our arms and hopped up and down in our own celebration. Mom walked in on us and shook her head in bemused consternation. Whew. We were such nerds. And so proud.

Mass’s story is riveting. He’s a kid from the Bronx, with childhood astronaut dreams, never straying far from home. But then a mentor suggests that if he was really passionate about Space, he would find a way. Spoiler alert: he does.

He brings as along as he barely survives a PhD at MIT, difficult post doctoral work on a Robot arm with improved human-factors feedback, vision so poor it would disqualify him, getting to fly on the Shuttle, losing close friends in both shuttle disasters, getting to work on the Hubble repair (don’t miss THAT story, OMG) doing many hours of space walks, Tweeting from space, getting to be on Big Bang Theory…

Whew! I feel like I was along for the whole ride. Mass tells us of action stories, cliffhangers, scientific breakthroughs, comedy routines, insurmountable engineering design problems, interpersonal conflicts, lifelong friendships and jaw-dropping space walks. And he is such a guy-next-door.

CMIO’s take? Lessons on how high powered individuals and teams work. And the stories are unforgettable. Get this book today. Give it a listen. You won’t regret it.

Author: CT Lin

CMIO, UCHealth (Colorado); Professor, University of Colorado School of Medicine

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