December 30, 2012

Review - Mankind Beyond Earth (Claude A. Piantadosi)

Seeking to reenergize Americans' passion for the space program, the value of further exploration of the Moon, and the importance of human beings on the final frontier, Claude A. Piantadosi presents a rich history of American space exploration and its major achievements. He emphasizes the importance of reclaiming national command of our manned program and continuing our unmanned space missions, and he stresses the many adventures that still await us in the unfolding universe. Acknowledging space exploration's practical and financial obstacles, Piantadosi challenges us to revitalize American leadership in space exploration in order to reap its scientific bounty.

With Mankind Beyond Earth Claude A. Piantadosi presents a different focus among the multitude of books on space exploration. Emphasizing the importance of first returning to the Moon before even thinking about taking the big leap towards Mars, some may think the book offers a much too prudent approach, but does it really?
Not just reiterating historic events, but drawing a vivid picture of how space travel draws from eg polar science, which is one of the grandparents of space exploration, the author comes to the conclusion that despite what it may look like, a coherent plan for human space travel has not been developed yet.
Obviously traveling into outer space does not allow much leeway when it comes to errors and bringing feasibility of future space exploration on par with the limits of human biology is a crucial point. Thus we must continue to learn and what better way than settling up on Earth's natural satellite which would offer the chance for habitat development before attempting interplanetary missions? With robotic missions well under way, we are certainly taking the first step, but it's a fragile balance not just of scientific research, but politics as well as economic considerations.
Highly engrossing and accessible even for those who aren't science nuts, I thoroughly enjoyed this book which does not simply draw castles in the sky, but conveys a wonderful combination of sound science with a sense for adventure!
In short: Captivating tract on the importance of space exploration!

4/5 Trees

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the NetGalley book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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