From coal mine to outer space: Meet former South Yorkshire pitman who completed NASA astronaut course

For a coal miner working in the bowels of the earth there is only one place to go - and that's up.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 31st August 2016, 10:22 am
Updated Wednesday, 31st August 2016, 11:26 am
Phil Reeder on one of his visits to a space training camp in America.

Former pitman Phil Reeder has taken that adage to a whole new level, by reaching for the stars and training to become a NASA spaceman!

Phil, who spent 13 years working underground at Wath Colliery, has proven he is made of the ‘right stuff’ after completing a series of training courses over the last decade or so with NASA.

Phil Reeder, front row right, with staff from the US Space and Rocket Centres Space Camp training facility.

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He has now put pen to paper to tell all about his extraordinary experiences in a new book called ‘From Coal Miner to Astronaut - A Life Less Ordinary’. And while the pitman to starman journey is a significant portion of the book, the detailed autobiographical account also delves into other unusual aspects of his life, such as the time he fell down a mine shaft and when he almost made it onto the hit TV programme Gladiators.

By the time he had finished, the book spanned across more than 100 chapters and 700 pages.

The Wath man said: “Things just seem to happen, either for me or to me. Call it fate, call it karma, call it what you like and I have to wonder what’s just around the corner. It’s taken me three long years to complete the book. It’s a work that became so big, with its 102 chapters, that to do it justice I had to create a blog to support all the pictures I wanted to include in the book, but could not.”

The book details how he began reaching for the stars back in 2004 when he was accepted onto a course at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.

Phil Reeder, front row right, with staff from the US Space and Rocket Centres Space Camp training facility.

Since then he has made numerous trips to the US Space and Rocket Centre’s Space Camp facility in Alabama where he got to wear the famous space suit and complete simulated missions in a huge underwater tank. Although the training courses are not quite the real deal, they give visitors the chance to experience aspects of training that real astronauts go through before travelling into space. Phil’s book is available through Amazon’s Kindle Direct service. Visit