Writing about our efforts of space exploration and plans for the future is always difficult, if just because it becomes outdated so quickly. I recently read Mary Roach’s book “Packing for Mars,” which was published in 2010, when a different administration was in charge of NASA and its goals. While we’re no longer focused on creating a moon base in Shackleton Crater before jumping on to Mars, Roach does touch on a lot interesting things in her deep dive into everything NASA has to think about concerning humans and space travel.

I can’t say that I entirely enjoyed reading all of this book, but I think that a teenage boy would feel right at home in some of the chapters that got me squirming. Motion sickness isn’t exactly a cheerful discussion on any day, and talking about astronauts getting motion sickness in space, when there is no gravity and you’re stuck in a space suit … well, yeah. You get the idea.

But you can also understand why Roach wanted to address it. If there was a very real danger of astronauts suffocating themselves with their own vomit, then NASA had to spend time and money thinking about it, or testing astronauts and disallowing those who showed an inclination toward sickness.

Also along the teenage boy vein was a chapter about pooping in space, as well as sex in zero gravity and how NASA uses cadavers to crash test their capsules. I’ve mentioned before in kind of a joking manner that I would be OK leaving my body to science, and after reading that chapter, I’m surprisingly still OK with it.

There were other chapters that were a bit more my speed, such as the physiological effects of living in space. I was charmed to read about (and quite happy to not have to do myself) one of the tests Japan put their potential astronauts through: the test of the Thousand Cranes, where participants had to fold 1,000 origami cranes within a certain time period. Would the astronauts be able to pace themselves with such a monotonous task? Would their later cranes be sloppier than their first? So many strange conclusions could be drawn from such a test.