If you're anything like me, you get a lot of your news online through various news and social media sources (especially Discovery News!). This is great, as it puts the most up-to-date information in front of you instantly. But sometimes it's nice to sit down and open up a real live book to explore a topic much more intimately than you normally could online.
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As a member of the "Orbital Perspective Release Crew," I recently had the opportunity to do precisely that with a free copy of Ron Garan's book "The Orbital Perspective: Lessons in Seeing the Big Picture from a Journey of 71 Million Miles."
A decorated fighter pilot, astronaut, and entrepreneur, Ron has logged 178 days in space and over 71 million miles in orbit. He is the founder of the nonprofit social enterprise incubator Manna Energy Foundation and is also the founder of Fragile Oasis, which uses the "orbital perspective" to inspire positive social and environmental action. During his time living and working in space over the course of two missions – shuttle mission STS-124 and Expedition 27/28 aboard the ISS – as well as participating in various humanitarian programs on Earth, Ron has developed a sense of acute awareness of the interconnectiveness of humanity, of how we really are "all in this together." Unfortunately, regardless of how beautiful our planet looks from orbit there's no denying that actual living conditions in many places around the world are belied by that beauty.
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Having seen our world firsthand from both viewpoints, Ron has become aware of the paradox but doesn't believe that it has to be "just the way things are" - he believes we have the ability to change things on a global scale but only if we work together... only if we can achieve an orbital perspective.
This is not your typical "space book." The Orbital Perspective won't make you gasp in wonder at how the continents look from low-Earth orbit or dazzle you with glossy photographs of stars, aurorae, the Milky Way or massive spacecraft roaring into the sky. That's not what it's about. Yes, Ron has seen and been a part of all that, and yes, he does provide fascinating insight into the space program - particularly the collaboration between the U.S. and Russia to develop and construct the ISS. But The Orbital Perspective is much more about the effort itself than it is about Station or the Shuttle or what Earth looks like as it turns tirelessly below.
Collaboration - in the literal sense of the word, laboring together - is what Ron focuses on above all else because it is only through true collaboration that amazing and world-changing things can be achieved.
PHOTO: Garan photographs a meteor from orbit
The Orbital Perspective is a book for anyone who works with people (which is almost everyone who is employed) and especially those who find themselves in roles that require bringing people together to solve a problem, whether within their own organization or halfway around the world. Working in space and working on Earth are surprisingly similar (besides that pesky gravity bit) if just in that both require individuals with specialized skill sets cooperating together to achieve a common goal. Ron has been one of those individuals many times, and it's a privilege to gain some of his personal insight.
Whether you're just a fan of spaceflight or are personally involved in global outreach or professional development of any kind, The Orbital Perspective will help you see your world - our world - in a whole new light. As Ron reminds us, #TheKeyIsWe.