For 132 days, Dr. Jerry Linenger was away from home, away from his 14-month old son. Away on the longest, most distant business trip it was possible to take: stationed on the Russian Space Station Mir.
Letters from Mir is not notable as an account of his time in space, but it is notable as a heart-felt, sincere testament from a father to a young son. Letters from Mir is what it's name implies: letters from a father to a son, on everyday events, life in space, growing up, the role of fathers....It is, without hyperbole, a moving and expressive book.
The book is also notable for what is alluded to, but not generally focused on: the dangers that Dr. Linenger faced while stationed on Mir. During his time Mir suffered several almost crippling blows, the worst of which was a deadly and life-threatening fire that nearly consumed the station. The disaster's impact certainly permeates through Linenger's later letters as the tone shifts away from the everyday and roams deeper into the paternal essence of a father's love for his son. A short, but terrific book.
I think one reason I identify so strongly with this book is I've been doing a similar project for the past year, prior to having even heard of Letters from Mir, with my other weblog The Dad Chronicles. It's a damn strange world at times....
For Linenger's full account of life on Mir, check out Off The Planet: Surviving Five Perilous Months Aboard the Space Station Mir.
Check out the view from above at NASA's Earth Observatory website or get a good look at Mir before it's fiery plunge into the Pacific Ocean in 2001 at Mir Space Station or at NASA's Mir Page. You can also find out about life onboard the ISS here.
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