Review: The Sky Below: A True Story of Summits, Space, and Speed
Those suffering from an inferiority complex probably shouldn’t read the new book The Sky Below. An in-depth review of the many adventures of former NASA shuttle astronaut Scott Parazynski, it covers his many accomplishments and at the same time keeping a very conversational tone. For those interested in the background of some of America’s more recent space flyers, it has much to offer.
Perhaps the first of these is what impels (perhaps “propels” is a better word considering one of his past occupations) the eternally young looking Parazysnki to achieve all that he has.
The Sky Below covers how Parazynski has, starting at an early age, traveled the world, became a medical doctor, coached luge in the 1988 Calgary Winter Games, became the only astronaut to climb Mount Everest, and rescued the International Space Station during one of the riskier extra-vehicular activities in recent memory. Those are just the high points.
Parazynski, along with Suzy Flory, detailed some of his many, many experiences in his new book, The Sky Below: A True Story of Summits, Space, and Speed by Little A, an imprint of Amazon Publishing.
SpaceFlight Insider wanted to not just discover what caused him to produce the book, but to also find out a bit more about the man behind all of these achievements. We asked Parazynski to chat with us and he readily agreed.
SFI: Thanks for joining us today Scott!
Parazynski: “My pleasure.”
SFI: So, can you tell us about what got you started on drafting this book? Was this something you’d wanted to do for a long time…
Parazynski: “I had a lot of encouragement from family and friends about the wonderful and crazy experiences that I’ve had in my life. Throughout the years I had jotted down certain things that had happened in my life, but I’d never written them all down as one, comprehensive story and really figured out what it might be.”
SFI: You’ve done some astonishing things, I mean, really, your book [raises] the question: Is there anything he can’t do? One thing that our readers would probably be most interested in, however, was the unplanned EVA on [STS] 120. Is that and other elements of your on orbit experiences covered at length in your book?
Parazynski: “They will be immersed in the 120 solar array repair and the incredible team work that went into solving that problem. Much of the book, actually, is dedicated to my five space flights and, of course, the ‘epic of all epics’ was the solar array repair. So, there’s a lot of detail on that. If your viewers visit the Kindle store and get the enhanced eBook, they can actually see enhanced video from that day, video from launches and imagery throughout my space career as well.
“This includes things that have rarely been seen, while they’re public domain, for various reasons, they didn’t get the distribution that others did. There are some really neat pictures from my flight career that I think people will be interested in.”
SFI: Should it present itself, are you interested in another journey beyond Earth’s atmosphere should it present itself via commercial means?
Parazynski: “I’m so bullish on the commercial space flight industry that I’ve done some consultant work for the NewSpace company’s that have emerged. So, I would love to get the chance to fly again if that opportunity were to present itself. I don’t know if that’s practical or likely or not, but I’m [really] excited about the fact that we’re entering an age when so many more people will have the opportunity to fly in space.
“I think one of the strong points of this book is that it focuses not just on the great successes, but also overcoming obstacles that we encountered along the way as well. I’ve always said that the pathway to success is scattered with a few failures. I talk about all of that throughout the course of the book.”
As noted, one thing that Parazynski’s tale conveys is the importance to follow one’s dreams and not to let anything stand in your way. Parazynski noted his fascination with the Apollo missions to the Moon. With such lofty interests, it should come as little surprise that he wound up becoming an astronaut.
The Sky Below is available at Amazon.com and wherever books are sold and is highly recommended. The book is available as a hardcover, softcover, as an audio book, as well as a Kindle in Motion E-Book.
Video courtesy of NASA / ISS Mania 11
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.