Marianne J. Dyson

Space Station Science

Space Station Science cover
Golden Kite Award Winner
Space Station Science was my first book, and remains my most popular. It won the SCBWI Golden Kite Award for best nonfiction book of 1999 and has sold about 50,000 copies. Excerpts (especially of the explanation for why things are weightless in space) have appeared in tests and textbooks. The book has been translated into Arabic and Korean (copies available--see Book Orders). The first edition (hardback) was published by Scholastic and is now out-of-print. The second edition (paperback) has been available from Windward since 2004. The International Space Station assembly is finally done. Learn all about the systems and challenges of doing science in our laboratory in space!

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Chronology of ISS Crews available here.

Read an Extra Chapter! Like most nonfiction authors, I had way more information about space stations than I could fit in one book. To fit the 128-page format, I had to sacrifice the "History of Space Stations" chapter. Then I realized that though it wouldn't fit in the book, there was plenty of room for it on my website! Plus I can include hot links to photos and other information I could not put in the book. Have fun reading Space Station History!

Space Writing Activity The Mission Control chapter of Space Station Science is written in a "complete-your-own-adventure" format. Individuals and classes can use this chapter as a springboard to create a science fiction story. Directions and the Mission Control chapter are available on the The Right Spin on Things page.

Update list of Flight Control Positions. Since publication, three new flight control positions: Chronus, Ethos, and Spartan, have taken the place of five: Cato, Odin, Eclss, Phalcon, and Thor. Also,the ACO and Gemini positions (Atlas and Titan) have been retired. Please update page 51 accordingly. Thanks!

Space Station Science Wins Family Choice Award!

Space Station Science was selected from over a thousand entries to receive a 2005 Family Choice Award endorsement from the Family Magazines group. The Family Magazines group asks local school children and teachers to act as an "Academy," testing, rating, and eliminating until they come up with the best of the best. Check out the award winners in all the categories (this book is in the kids+9 category) at their website:

Space Station Science 2nd Edition Earns Award!

From a press release Windward, June 15, 2005: Space Station Science, written by Marianne Dyson, received an Honorable Mention for juvenile non-fiction during ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Award ceremony. This ceremony took place at Book Expo America in New York City on June 3rd. ... ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Awards were established to bring increased attention to the literary achievements of independent presses and their authors. A jury of librarians, booksellers, and reviewers select winners and finalists based on editorial excellence and professional production as well as the originality of the narrative and the value the book adds to its genre.

Download a one-page flier with excerpts of reviews of Space Station Science: FLIER.

Space Station Science Wins Golden Kite!

Marianne with golden kite trophy. The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) selected Space Station Science to receive its top award, the Golden Kite, for the best nonfiction book of 1999. This award is the only children's book award given by children's authors and illustrators to their peers. Marianne (pictured above holding trophy) received the award at the SCBWI annual conference in July, 2000. More information on this award (and Marianne's acceptance speech!)is available at the scbwi website:

From the (original) Publisher (Scholastic):

A former NASA scientist describes the cutting edge of space science! Delving into life on a space station, this fascinating book includes the nitty gritty of getting into space and staying up there. What's it like to live without day and night? What happens to your muscles when there's no gravity? And what happens when a meteor hits the space station? Includes over 40 photographs, glossary, index, plus additional resources, including web sites.

Review by BOOKLIST, November 15, 1999

Space Station Science received the following review in the November 15, 1999 Booklist, page 619 - a publication of the American Library Association.

"Dyson, Marianne J. Space Station Science: Life in Free Fall. 1999. 128 p. index. illus. Scholastic, $16.95 (0-590-05889-4).

Dyson, formerly on NASA's mission control team, explores the details of living and working in space. Drawing on experiences of astronauts and cosmonauts, she explains their training, then launches readers on a space flight. There is continuous discussion of basic necessities such as air, water, power, climate control, communications with the earth, food, and hygiene, as well as the challenges of doing space walks and scientific experiments. Children will be pleased to find an unusually thorough explanation of the space station bathroom, complete with a photo of its high-tech commode. Dyson also discusses hazards such as high-energy radiation and collisions with space objects. The precisely written text, illustrated with many full-color photos, leads readers to imagine life in orbit and to do a number of simple experiments related to space flight. A glossary and a list of organizations and Web sites concludes this inviting and informative volume. - Carolyn Phelan."


Gr 5-8. "In space, a gallon of water costs as much as a house, you can't get any TV stations, and opening a window will kill you." Gathering information from astronauts and other scientists, Dyson takes readers through crew training and launch; covers physical necessities and hazards, including a detailed look at space toilets; describes the kinds of tasks and research that can be performed on a space station; then brings astronauts back to Earth for a study of the effects of an extended stay off-planet. Artfully mixing big questions ("If people stayed in space, would they end up as blobs?") with well-chosen scientific and personal details, Dyson at once excites and informs young readers. Clever, low-tech demonstrations and experiments elucidate physical principles. The illustrations include lucid cartoons and color photos, and a concluding list of Web sites will expedite further inquiry. Though the author only focuses on the U.S. and Russia and is weak on historical background, with the upcoming construction of the International Space Station, this consciousness raiser couldn't be better timed. A lively, up-to-date replacement for Don Berliner's Living in Space (Lerner, 1993) and Larry Kettelkamp's Living in Space (Morrow, 1993). -John Peters, New York Public Library Copyright 1999, Cahners Business Information.

Review from Akron Beacon Journal, Sunday, April 16, 2000

In Space Station Science, Marianne Dyson straightforwardly explains every aspect of life in space, from the science behind rocket propulsion to the nitty gritty of going to the bathroom in zero gravity.

Shannon Lucid, we learn, the U.S. astronaut who holds the women's record for living in space (six months, four days), didn't take a shower that entire time. Since water the crew needs must be carried with them from earth, supplies are limited. One method of ``creating'' water in space has been to filter and purify the crew's urine, which has been done successfully.

The payoff for living under these conditions is, of course, being on the cutting edge of research. That, and the view. The sky is a deep, dark black, reported astronaut Donald Thomas. ``Much darker than when your eyes are closed in the dark.'' Seeing the earth against this blackness is such a contrast of colors, Thomas said, that it ``takes your breath away.'' Dyson includes simple, clever projects kids can do to better understand the scientific principles undergirding space travel -- good choices for keeping the mind firing over the summer months . . . or until it's time to leave for Mars. Space Station Science (Scholastic, $16.95) is slanted to ages 9 to 12. -- Beacon Journal staff and wire reports

Review from S P A C E V I E W S, January 31, 2000

"What's it like to live and work in space for extended period of time? American and other astronauts will find out in the very near future as the International Space Station is assembled and put to use. However, our perceptions of what conditions in space are like, particularly for children, are often shaped by unrealistic depictions in books, movies, and TV shows. Marianne Dyson aims to change that with "Space Station Science", a realistic look at station life for children... and adults.

"Space Station Science" explores what life will be like on the International Space Station. After an introduction to the basics needed to life in space (air, water, power, etc.), one part of the book explores the living facilities on the station (including an extended discussion of how astronauts will go to the bathroom on the space station.) Another part of the book discusses the laboratory facilities on the station, and the work astronauts will perform. Sprinkled throughout the book are hands-on activities, such as building a model of the station's robot arm using a broomstick, cardboard, and flashlight.

"Dyson talked with over two dozen astronauts for this book (Buzz Aldrin also contributed the foreword to the book), and those interviews add an extra degree of insider information to the book that's tough to find elsewhere. In fact, while intended for kids, "Space Station Science" may teach adults a thing or two (or three or more...) about the space station. This book is an educational -- and enjoyable -- read for all." - Jeff Foust, Editor, Spaceviews. Issue 2000.05, 2000 January 31, 2000. Spaceviews Home Page

Review from Future Astronauts of America

"In this Scholastic book, Marianne J. Dyson has taken an extremely complicated space subject and reduced it down to an Earthly level that everyone can understand... We highly recommend this book to anyone who is a space station enthusiast." Find out more about this group at:

Dyson Interview by Cynthia Leitich Smith:

Space Station Science Awards

Space Station Science was named as one of the TOP 10 Youth Science Books in the December 1, 1999 Booklist, page 699. Reviewers Stephanie Zvirin and Carolyn Phelan explain that the list is drawn from reviews that appeared in Booklist between December 1, 1998 and November 15, 1999 issues.

Space Station Science named Editor's Choice Book by Odyssey Magazine, January, 2000.

Outstanding Trade Book for 2000

The books that appear in the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)/Children's Book Council (CBC) bibliography were selected as outstanding children's science trade books published in 1999. They were selected by a book review panel appointed by the NSTA and assembled in cooperation with the CBC. NSTA and CBC have cooperated on this bibliographic project since 1973.

The panel looks at both content and presentation. Selection is based generally on the following criteria: the book has substantial science content; information is clear, accurate, and up-to-date; theories and facts are clearly distinguished; facts are not oversimplified so that the information is misleading; generalizations are supported by facts and significant facts are not omitted; and books are free of gender, ethnic, and socioeconomic bias.

The panel also uses rigorous selection guidelines relating to the presentation of material, including the following: the presentation is logical and the sequence of ideas is clear; the content level is appropriate for the intended audience; text and illustrations are compatible; illustrations enhance the presentation and are accurate representations in size, color, and scale; trim size and format of the book are appropriate to the subject and audience; and layout is well organized and advances the text.

In addition, the panel gives attention to the quality of binding, paper, reproduction, and the appropriateness of typeface. All panel members read all the books, but annotations reflect only the appraisal of the panelist who wrote it and whose initials follow at the end of each entry.

Here is the listing from the March 2000 issue of Science and Children magazine: Space Station Science: Life in Free Fall. Marianne J. Dyson. Illustrated with drawings by Dave Klug and photographs from various sources. Scholastic Reference. 128pp. Trade ISBN 0-590-05889-4, $16.95. (I) Welcome aboard the International Space Station! Readers are introduced to the numerous systems that keep the space station up and running and the complexities of day-to-day living onboard. Complete with hands-on activities that simulate life in space and full-color illustrations, this book shows what it's like to live in a space station. Foreword by Buzz Aldrin. Glossary, Index, For Further Study. MBC (V,VI) [MBC is Michael B. Cowan, Director of science, social sciences, and world languages, Mesa (Arizona) Public Schools.

Space Station Science Jacket Text

Have you ever dreamed you could fly? Well, now you can fly while you dream. Because up in a space station, in orbit around Earth, you're weightless. Bees don't flap their wings in free fall--they push off and glide. Liquids form spheres, floating without a container. If you don't tie yourself down when you go to sleep, you'll wake up stuck to an air vent. And the experiments you do, on your own body and on the animals, plants, and chemicals that you bring with you, are cutting-edge science that can only be done in space.

The first decade of the twenty-first century is the decade of the International Space Station, the largest space station in history and the first to represent the cooperative venture of many nations. With construction stretching over the early part of the decade and pioneering experiments filling the rest, the International Space Station is an important part of the culture of these times. And Space Station Science: Life in Free Fall is your guidebook to the International Space Station.

In Space Station Science, former NASA mission controller Marianne Dyson explains all of the systems needed to keep the International Space Station up and running; shows how the simplest tasks of daily life are changed in free fall; details the types of experiments scientist can do in space and nowhere else; tells how we get to and from space; and gives us a glimpse into the future of space stations. Complete with activities that simulate life in space, and illustrated with full-color photos and drawings, this up-to-the-minute insider's guide will show you what it's like to live in a space station and how what we learn up there could forever change our lives down here.

Space Station Science Author Bio

Marianne Jakmides Dyson earned a degree in physics and became one of the first ten women to work in Mission Control. After she left NASA, she began sharing her passion for space science through writing. For this book, she pored over technical reports, tracked down photos, took part in training (look for her on page 48, third row, second from the left), and interviewed hundreds of people, some in orbit. Dyson wants to live on a space station. For now, she lives in Houston with her family, her pets, and that thing evolving in the refrigerator.

Space Station Science Artist

Dave Klug has been drawing as long as he can remember, but professionally since 1986. His work appears regularly in Parents, Family Fun, The New York Times, Forbes, and Fortune. He lives outside Pittsburgh with his wife, son, and two dogs. An albino squirrel named Charlie lives in the backyard.

More Information

This book won the Golden Kite Award!
Order Autographed copy

Korean edition from Duran.
Space Station Science in Korean.
Go to AuthorCopy to order.

Read the History of space stations and a chronology of crews up through the Space Shuttle retirement in 2011.

Write a science fiction story based on this book!

Watch a video of me presenting Space Station Science on C-SPAN BOOK-TV at Kennard Elementary School in 2001.

On May 2, 2004, I was a guest on The Space Show with Dr. David Livingston and discussed Space Station Science and the importance of space settlement to our children's future. I also appeared on November 11, 2008.Listen to the shows. - Current station flights, including online video. - Best prices on space mission patches/toys/shirts/collectibles.
scale model of ISS.
- Find when ISS will pass over your city. - Space Shuttle Columbia quotes/photos from the STS-107 mission & memorial in 2003.

Space Station Science original cover.
Original cover of Space Station Science from Scholastic.

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