Over 550 people have orbited Earth. Approximately 10% of them have written books, and the best of these can not only inform but also entertain. In sharing their experiences of training and going into space, the astronauts often tell personal stories and these can inspire readers to follow their own dreams.
These are the main reasons why our astronauts are motivated to write books. But aside from sharing knowledge with the general public, there’s an often-overlooked by-product resulting from the sales of these books.
This comes from the fact that our active astronauts (and ESA itself) do not make any financial gain from their book proceeds. Any royalties received by the publisher must be donated to a charity of the astronaut’s choice.
For example, with Samantha Cristoforetti’s book Diario di un'apprendista astronauta, the publisher La Nave di Teseo donated €65 000 to UNICEF Italy. In 2017, the large-format book called Terre(s)’ by Editions Michel Lafon featuring photos of Earth taken by Thomas Pesquet during his Proxima mission raised €117 000 for French charity Aux Restos du Cœur.