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Out of Orbit

Laura Repas, Publicity Director
Laura Repas is the Publicity Director for House of Anansi and Groundwood Books. Photo courtesy Kate McQuaid

For the last month my five-year-old son has been completely obsessed with Canadian astronaut and ISS Commander Chris Hadfield. The librarian at his school has been reading to the kids about the solar system, and they’ve been watching Hadfield’s Youtube videos and learning about the International Space Station. He’s also super into the song Hadfield and Ed Robertson sing, and we play it around the house and strum along and dance.

Hearing about Hadfield’s recent return home reminded me of our excellent book called Out of Orbit by Chris Jones. It’s a true story about the three astronauts who were trapped in orbit after the space shuttle Columbia tragically exploded in 2003. The book chronicles both how the astronauts survived in space for an extended period of time, and how they finally figured out how to get home. I remember the parts of the book that dealt with their harrowing trip back into Earth’s atmosphere in an ancient Soyuz capsule as the most gripping and suspenseful parts of an already immensely readable book, and it made me want to revisit the story. Having now reread it, I feel I have a better understanding of what Commander Hadfield went through yesterday.

— Laura Repas

In honour of Chris Hadfield’s safe return to earth, Out of Orbit is 30% off when you use the code HADFIELD30. Sale ends May 19th.

About the book

In February 2003, American astronauts Donald Pettit and Kenneth Bowersox and Russian flight engineer Nikolai Budarin were on a routine fourteen-week mission maintaining the International Space Station. But then the space shuttle Columbia exploded far beneath them. With the launch program suspended indefinitely, these astronauts had suddenly lost their ride back to earth.Out of Orbit chronicles the efforts of the beleaguered mission controls in Houston and Moscow as they worked frantically against the clock, ultimately settling on a plan that felt, at best, like a long shot. Latched to the side of the space station was a Russian-built Soyuz TMA-1 capsule, the rocket equivalent of a 1976 Gremlin. Despite the inherent danger, the Soyuz became the only hope to return Bowersox, Budarin, and Pettit home. Their harrowing journey back to earth is a powerful reminder that space travel remains an incredibly dangerous pursuit.


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