For Ages
9 to 12

From the author of The Many Worlds of Albie Bright comes another cutting-edge cosmic space adventure for anyone who's ever looked up at the stars and wondered about the universe. An exploration of the constellations, an appreciation of the courage of astronauts, and a loving father-son story. Perfect for fans of Scott Kelly's Astrotwins series.

How amazing would it be to have a dad who's an astronaut? To see him go on rocket launches, live in zero gravity, and fly through space like a superhero? Jamie Drake knows. His dad is orbiting Earth in the International Space Station. Jamie thinks it's cool, and he's proud of his dad, but he also really misses him. Hanging out at the local observatory one day, Jamie is surprised when he picks up a strange signal on his phone. Could it be aliens? Are they closer to our planet than anyone realizes? With his dad in space, Jamie feels he has no choice but to investigate on his own. But when something goes wrong with his dad's mission, Jamie is reminded that space is a dangerous place. He decides it's time to prove that he's a hero too.

An Excerpt fromThe Jamie Drake Equation

You’re supposed to start a story at the beginning, right? The thing is, knowing exactly when that is can be kind of difficult. I mean, I could start this story with how the solar system was formed about four and a half billion years ago. That was when the center of a huge cloud of gas and dust that was spinning in space got superhot and turned into a star, but this story really got started way before that.

 

It’s all about putting things in the right order. That’s how the solar system got going, as scientists know. Once the sun was formed, the rest of the dust and stuff got stuck together to make the planets and moons, and since then they’ve just kept spinning around the sun, year after year.

 

Some are a bit too close, like Venus, where it’s a scorching four hundred degrees Celsius in the shade, while others are too far out and freezing cold, like Saturn and Neptune. But of all those planets, all those worlds, there’s only one where we know that life exists. And that’s our world--the planet Earth.

 

That’s because it’s right in the middle of the Goldilocks zone. Now, this isn’t like the Phantom Zone in Superman--some kind of interdimensional prison where the three bears have locked up Goldilocks for crimes against porridge. The Goldilocks zone is the name for the region of space around a star where life has a chance of existing. Somewhere not too hot and not too cold, but just right. And in our solar system, Earth has this spot completely to itself.

 

It’s a bit like my family, really. There’s Mom, Dad, Charlie, and me, Jamie Drake. Dad’s the star in our family’s solar system because he’s an astronaut. Everyone at school knows his name, and he’s been on TV loads of times talking about his latest space mission. He’s kind of like Captain Kirk crossed with Han Solo but cooler because he’s a real person.

 

To be fair, I reckon Mom’s the star too because she keeps everything running smoothly when Dad’s not around, so that just leaves Charlie and me in the Goldilocks zone.

 

It used to be that I had this spot totally to myself, but then four years ago Mom and Dad told me I was going to have a baby sister. At first I wasn’t too sure, but then Mom explained that tons of people think the perfect family has four people in it, so by adding a little sister, our family was going to be just the right size, and when baby Charlotte was born, I kind of had to agree.

 

Our family’s solar system is now perfectly balanced. Mom + Dad = Me + Charlie.

 

Now, if you move any part of the real solar system, then the whole thing goes to pieces, with planets crashing into each other or flying off into the depths of space. Everything has to be in just the right place for Earth to keep spinning safely around the sun. So with Dad four hundred kilometers above our heads on the International Space Station, I’m keeping a close eye on things at home in case any bits of the Drake family solar system start to wobble.

 

So far, everything’s okay. In fact, Mom and Dad were arguing a lot before he blasted off into orbit, and I think having this break has just made them realize how much they love each other after all. And in ten days’ time, Dad will land safely back on Earth, and our family can get back to normal. It’s just a shame he’s going to miss my birthday on Friday.

 

That’s the day of his space walk. The day the human race launches its first mission to the stars in search of alien life. I hope he hasn’t forgotten to get me a present.

Under the Cover