27 Captivating Books About Space

Step behind the scenes with these 27 Space books. Our list includes reads about famous astronauts such as Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Sally Ride.

You will also find fascinating reads about certain NASA missions and what it's like to be in space. Other books offer a look at lesser known figures that helped NASA become what it is today.

Finally, you'll get a great look at what it's really like working for NASA, the stress for the team on the ground, and how making certain decisions cost some astronauts their lives. 

Books about Space

1. Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void

Packing for Mars

Written By: Mary Roach

Published: 2010

Pages: 334

Packing For Mars is Mary Roach's state-of-the-art foray into the world of science writing, and it's a fascinating read. In it, she explores the many challenges of living in space, from the mundane (keeping clean) to the more complex (coping with long-term isolation).

Roach takes a probing look at what it takes to keep humans alive and healthy in an extreme environment, and her prose is as entertaining as ever.

If you're interested in space travel or just want to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes, this is one of the best space books for you.

2. Mars Rover Curiosity: An Inside Account from Curiosity's Chief Engineer

Mars Rover Curiosity

Written By: Rob Manning, William L. Simon

Published: 2014

Pages: 224

Engineers are often behind the scenes, but without them there would be no products or technology to support our everyday lives. Curiosity’s Chief Engineer, Rob Manning, takes readers on a journey through the making of Mars Rover Curiosity and gives them an insider account of this technological marvel.

He also details the stress and concern among his peers about landing a machine on Mars that could not be fully tested on Earth.

From the early planning stages to testing and launch, Manning provides fascinating details about the construction and operation of Curiosity.

3. A Man on the Moon

A Man on the Moon

Written By: Andrew Chaikin

Published: 1998 (1994)

Pages: 688

In his book, A Man on the Moon, Andrew Chaikin tells the story of the Apollo 11 mission in a way that makes you feel like you were right there with the astronauts. He weaves together transcripts, interviews, and his information from other sources to create a vivid, multi-layered account of this incredible feat in human history.

Chaikin’s portrayal of the Apollo program brings out both the heroism and the humanity of these men who risked their lives to journey to the moon. Whether he is describing Armstrong's first step or Collins' lonely voyage around the moon, Chaikin captures both the awe-inspiring nature of spaceflight and the very real fears and doubts that the mission would be a success.

4. Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration

Mission to Mars

Written By: Buzz Aldrin

Published: 2013

Pages: 272

Buzz Aldrin, one of the first men to walk on the moon, has a vision for space exploration that he wants the world to hear.

In his book Mission to Mars, Aldrin discusses his plans for how we can continue exploring space and eventually send humans to live on Mars.

With an engaging writing style and years of experience in the field, Aldrin makes a strong case for why we should all be excited about space exploration and why we should be able to take humans to Mars by 2035.

5. Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13

Lost Moon

Written By: Jim Lovell, Jeffrey Kluger

Published: 1994

Pages: 378

What would you do if your spacecraft was damaged, and you were stranded in space?

That is the question that Apollo 13 astronaut Jim Lovell had to answer when his ship suffered a catastrophic explosion on its way to the moon. This fascinating book tells the story of the issues the craft encountered, the crew's perilous voyage back to Earth, and their determined effort to return home safely.

Despite encountering numerous challenges, the astronauts ultimately succeeded in their mission, thanks in part to Lovell's impressive leadership skills.

It’s a fascinating read and one of the best space books!

6. The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos

The Space Barons

Written by: Christian Davenport

Published: 2018

Pages: 320

In recent years, the idea of colonizing space has gained traction among some of the world's richest and most ambitious individuals. These so-called "space barons" are investing billions of dollars in developing new technologies that could make extraterrestrial colonization a reality.

The most well-known of these investors is Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, who has made it his mission to make human life multi-planetary. But he is not alone in this quest; Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, is also making significant strides in space exploration.

This book takes you inside their quest to learn more about why they are putting their money toward this important endeavor.

7. The Right Stuff

The Right Stuff

Written By: Tom Wolfe

Published: 1979

Pages: 436

In his 1979 book, The Right Stuff, Tom Wolfe profiles the astronauts who participated in America's space race against the Soviet Union.

These were men who had "the right stuff," Wolfe argues, referring to a combination of courage, skill, and perseverance. Through exhaustive research and vivid storytelling, Wolfe brings these fascinating individuals to life.

His book is an engrossing account of the challenges and triumphs of America's early space program.

8. Apollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon

Apollo 8

Written By:  Jeffrey Kluger

Published: 2017

Pages: 320

In December 1968, a crew of three astronauts embarked on a journey that would change history. Apollo 8 was the first mission to take humans to the moon, and its success marked an incredible achievement for the United States space program.

This riveting book tells the story of Apollo 8's voyage, from the tense preparations in the months leading up to it to the astronauts' triumphant return home. Written by Jeffrey Kluger, an acclaimed journalist, Apollo 8 is packed with fascinating details about this groundbreaking mission.

If you're interested in space exploration or American history, then you'll want to read this book.

9. Into the Black: The Extraordinary Untold Story of the First Flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia and the Astronauts Who Flew Her

Into the Black

Written By: Rowland White

Published: 2016

Pages: 480

On April 12, 1981, the Space Shuttle Columbia lifted off from pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was the first flight of America's new space shuttle program, and it marked a turning point in human history.

But the story of Columbia's first flight is more than just a tale of adventure and bravery. It’s the story of a few unknown issues that developed as it left earth and what they had to do in order to secure a safe reentry and landing for its astronauts.

10. Bringing Columbia Home: The Untold Story of a Lost Space Shuttle and Her Crew

Bringing Columbia Home

Written By: Michael D. Leinbach, Jonathan H. Ward

Published: 2018

Pages: 356

On February 1, 2003, Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated while reentering the Earth's atmosphere, killing all seven crew members aboard. It was one of the most devastating events in NASA's history.

It’s the story of the search and rescue mission that took place to find as many missing pieces of the shuttle as possible. This would help them understand what happened so they could safely launch other missions to space.

As they searched, they also tried to find and recover the bodies of the astronauts in the shuttle so they could bring them home to their families.

It’s a fascinating look inside one of Nasa’s darkest moments.

11. Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journey

Carrying the Fire

Written By: Michael Collins

Published: 1974

Pages: 478

Carrying the Fire is an autobiographical account of space shuttle astronaut Michael Collins' journey to become one of the few people to have ever journeyed to and returned from the moon.

The book tells the story of Collins' upbringing, his military career, and his work as an astronaut for NASA, culminating in his trip to the moon on Apollo 11.

Collins offers a unique perspective on being an astronaut and traveling to space, providing readers with a detailed look at what it takes to achieve such an accomplishment.

12. Hidden Figures

Written By: Margot Lee Shetterly

Published: 2016

Pages: 346

In the early days of America's space program, the contributions of African American women were hidden in plain sight. Despite discrimination and segregation, a group of black women known as "human computers" played a vital role in America's quest for space dominance.

In her book, Hidden Figures, Margot Lee Shetterly tells the incredible story of these forgotten heroes.

Drawing on extensive research and interviews with surviving members of this remarkable group, Shetterly brings to life the stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden—four women whose brilliance and perseverance helped change history.

>> More books about women scientists

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13. Liftoff: Elon Musk and the Desperate Early Days That Launched SpaceX


Written by: Eric Berger

Published: 2021

Pages: 288  

In 2002, SpaceX was founded with the hope of reducing the cost of space travel and making it more accessible to civilians.

In its early years, the company was met with many challenges, but founder Elon Musk refused to give up.

Thanks to his determination and dedication, SpaceX has now become one of the leading providers of space technology in the world. This is a story of grit and determination that is sure to inspire anyone who faces adversity.

14. The Last Man on the Moon: Astronaut Eugene Cernan and America's Race in Space

The Last Man on the Moon

Written By: Eugene Cernan, Donald A. Davis

Published: 1999

Pages: 368

In the early days of America's space program, there were no guarantees of success. But despite the risks, brave men and women ventured into the unknown, determined to explore the final frontier.

One such pioneer was astronaut Eugene Cernan, who made history as the last man on the moon. In this riveting book, Cernan tells his story of adventure and perseverance against all odds.

Only twelve people have ever walked on the lunar surface, and Cernan was one of them – Mission Commander for Apollo 17.

This is his story.

15. Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery


Written By: Scott Kelly

Published: 2017

Pages: 400

Scott Kelly's Endurance is an autobiographical account of his yearlong mission to the International Space Station (ISS) and the lessons he learned both during and after his stay in space.

A fascinating read for anyone interested in space exploration or human physiology, Kelly's book offers a rare glimpse into the challenges and rewards of life in orbit.

Whether describing the tedium of long-duration missions or the euphoria of seeing Earth from above, Kelly brings readers on a journey that is both Eye-opening and inspiring.

16. Spaceman: An Astronaut's Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe


Written By: Mike Massimino

Published: 2016

Pages: 320

Have you ever wondered what it takes to become an astronaut? In Spaceman: An Astronaut's Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe, Mike Massimino tells his own story of becoming an astronaut and traveling to space.

You'll learn about the rigorous training process that astronauts must undergo and the many challenges they face along the way. You'll also get a glimpse into the excitement and wonder of experiencing space firsthand.

17. Dragonfly: NASA and the Crisis Aboard Mir


Written By: Bryan Burrough

Published: 1999

Pages: 418

On February 23, 1997, the Russian space station Mir suffered a serious fire. It was one of many issues faced during the time this space station was in operation.

This crisis aboard Mir made international headlines and raised pressing questions about the safety of the aging Soviet-era spacecraft. In this book, Bryan Burrough tells the story of the doomed Mir mission and its aftermath.

He provides an in-depth look at the science and politics behind the tragic venture, as well as NASA's response to the disaster.

The story of Mir is a cautionary tale for all astronauts and space enthusiasts alike. It serves as a reminder that spaceflight is still a dangerous business - even in our time.

18. Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut

Riding Rockets

Written By: Mike Mullane

Published: 2006

Pages: 368

When most people think of space travel, they imagine futuristic machines carrying human passengers to faraway galaxies. But for Mike Mullane, his journey into outer space was much different than what it looks like in the movies.

In Riding Rockets, Mullane shares his outrageous tales from three Space Shuttle missions, providing an up-close and personal look at what it's like to be an astronaut.

Whether he's recounting narrowly escaping death or detailing the absurdity of daily life in space, Mullane's stories are sure to entertain and amaze.

So, strap in and hold on tight—you're in for one wild ride!

19. Failure is Not an Option: Mission Control From Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond

Failure is Not an Option

Written By: Gene Kranz

Published: 2000

Pages: 416

Since the dawn of human spaceflight, mission control has been a vital part of every manned mission, from Mercury to Apollo 13 and beyond. Mission control is responsible for monitoring the spacecraft and astronaut crew, providing support and guidance when needed, and ensuring the success of the mission.

Gene Kranz is a veteran flight director at NASA’s Mission Control. He was the flight director for both Apollo 11 and Apollo 13. It was a tough time when they knew less about what worked in space.

In his book, he offers us a look inside the history of mission control and some of its most notable successes and failures.

20. Sally Ride: America's First Woman in Space

Sally Ride

Written By: Lynn Sherr

Published: 2014

Pages: 400

On June 18, 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman in space. She was part of the Space Shuttle Challenger's STS-7 mission, and she rode into orbit at the age of 32.

Ride's historic flight marked a new era for women in spaceflight, and her legacy has inspired countless young girls to pursue their dreams.

In her book, Sally Ride: America's First Woman in Space, author Lynn Sherr shines a light on Ride's remarkable life and accomplishments. trailblazing astronaut.

21. Chasing Space: An Astronaut's Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances

Chasing Space

Written By: Leland Melvin

Published: 2017

Pages: 256

Since childhood, Leland Melvin has been chasing space. As an astronaut, he's flown to the International Space Station two times and logged over 565 hours in space.

His memoir, Chasing Space, details his journey from growing up in Lynchburg, Virginia to reaching the pinnacle of human achievement. Along the way, Melvin has faced challenges both personal (including losing his hearing in an accident) and professional with grit and grace.

22. How to Astronaut: Everything You Need to Know Before Leaving Earth

How to Astronaut

Written By: Terry Virts

Published: 2020

Pages: 304

Few people know what it takes to be an astronaut, and even fewer know how to become one. Terry Virts, a retired astronaut, and author of the book How to Astronaut, knows both of those things.

Virts shares everything he learned during his time in space- from what it's like to launch into orbit to the best ways to eat and sleep while up there. If you're interested in becoming an astronaut or just want a peek inside this unique career, be sure to check out this book.

23. Ask an Astronaut: My Guide to Life in Space

Ask an Astronaut

Written By: Tim Peake

Published: 2017

Pages: 247

Have you ever wondered what it's like to be an astronaut? How do you become an astronaut? What does it feel like when you're in space?

Tim Peake, the first British ESA astronaut, is here to answer all your questions!

In his book, Ask an Astronaut: My Guide to Life in Space, he provides a fascinating look inside life as an astronaut and offers tips for aspiring astronauts.

24. Truth, Lies, and O-Rings: Inside the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster

Truth, Lies, and O-Rings

Written By: Allan J. McDonald, James R. Hansen

Published: 2009

Pages: 648

In 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after takeoff, killing all seven crew members on board. The disaster was later determined to be caused by a faulty o-ring and other undocumented reasons.

Allan McDonald, the manager of the Morton Thiokol division that built the shuttle's O-rings, testified that he and his team had warned NASA of the potential danger and recommend that they not launch that day.

However, their concerns were ignored, and the launch went ahead as planned.

In this whistle-blower book, you’ll learn more about what before, during, and after the disaster including how it impacted McDonald’s life and career.

25. Across the Airless Wilds: The Lunar Rover and the Triumph of the Final Moon Landings

Across the Airless Wilds

Written By: Earl Swift

Published: 2021

Pages: 384

In this book, you will learn all about the importance of the final three moon landings. These landings included exploration by humans and the Lunar Roving Vehicle.

These vehicles allowed the astronauts to go further and explore more of the moon than the previous missions. However, these explorations are overshadowed by the first mission that landed on the moon.

Swift gives you more details on why these missions were so much more valuable. You’ll also learn more about the Lunar Roving Vehicle including how it was made and its capabilities.

26. First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong

First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong

Written By: James R. Hansen

Published: 2005

Pages: 654

On July 20, 1969, Neil A. Armstrong became the first human to walk on the moon. This amazing accomplishment was possible due to Armstrong's dedication to space exploration and his years of hard work and training.

In First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, author James R. Hansen tells the story of Armstrong's life, from his early days as a pilot to his time as Commander of Apollo 11.

This book offers an in-depth look at one of America's most iconic figures.

27. An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth

An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth

Written By: Chris Hadfield

Published: 2013

Pages: 295

Since retiring from the Canadian Space Agency in 2013, astronaut Chris Hadfield has become one of the most sought-after public speakers in the world.

In his book, An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth, Hadfield offers insights and lessons learned from his time in space, sharing what he's learned about living life to the fullest.

From coping with risk to dealing with disappointment, Hadfield provides a unique perspective on how to make the most of every moment.

Whether you're looking for advice on how to achieve your goals or just want to hear an incredible journey firsthand, this book is sure to inspire.

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