Archive for the ‘Space Book Reviews’ Category

Credit: CP Curtis Press

Book Review: No Bucks, No Buck Rogers: Creating the Business of Commercial Space by Derek Webber, CP Curtis Press; 2017; U.S. $42.95.

This is an engaging, well-written, and fact-filled book regarding commercial space exploration.

Webber has long been associated with giving space the business, and his insider looks at how best to build the economic case for space is documented in this volume.

This over 270-page book is divided into sections:

Military and Governmental Beginnings; Traditional Commercial Space Businesses; Transition-enabling Businesses; Commercial Space Exploration Businesses; and Creating the Business of Commercial Space.

You can tell by these section listings, this is a no-nonsense look into space engineering, marketing and finance along with other business aspects. The volume also serves up fascinating projections into the future – specifically, lunar commerce, asteroid mining, space solar power, as well as space settlement.

Author Derek Webber

The author provides the reader unique insights, including accounts and details of multi-million dollar satellite and launch vehicle negotiations.

As Webber explains, the intent of this personal look is to detail and document “a massive paradigm shift” from old space to new space. The author has pulled together, not only an impressive roster of past, present, and future enterprises, but also the cast of characters that have been, in my view, renaissance agents – those individuals that have helped shape commercial space.

I was particularly drawn to the more futuristic opportunities. There’s a very healthy dose of detail concerning space tourism – which often takes on the ambience of tapping fusion power. But as Webber notes, “without true re-usability, enabled by space tourism, none of the future economic developments would be possible.”

The book also includes valuable general reading citations and key data sources, along with a selection of illustrations and photos, many published for the first time.

In his career, Derek Webber has been engaged in many of the significant developments of commercial space. As the Director of Spaceport Associates, he developed key space tourism market research data, and is currently presiding over the “Gateway Earth” space policy initiative.

For more information on this highly-informative book, go to:

Credit: SWF


The Secure World Foundation (SWF) has published an impressive handbook, intended to reach two categories of new actors in pioneering the space frontier:

  • National governments engaged in developing national space policies and regulations, and
  • Start-up companies, universities, and all other non-governmental entities beginning their first forays into space activities.

Changing face of space

In the handbook’s foreword, Michael Simpson, SWF’s Executive Director, points to the changing face of space.

“More than 70 states, commercial companies, and international organizations currently operate more than 1,500 satellites in Earth orbit. Driven largely by the commoditization of space technology and the lowering of barriers to participation, the number of space actors is growing,” Simpson writes. “This broadening of space has both advantages and disadvantages.”

Signing of the Outer Space Treaty. Soviet Ambassador Anatoly F. Dobrynin,
UK Ambassador Sir Patrick Dean, US Ambassador Arthur J. Goldberg, US President
Lyndon B. Johnson and others observe as US Secretary of State Dean Rusk signs the
Outer Space Treaty on January 27, 1967 in Washington, DC
Source: UNOOSA.

Accelerated growth

On one side, Simpson observes, this growth is leading to greatly increased technological innovation, lower costs, and greater access to the beneficial capabilities and services offered by satellites.

“However, the accelerated growth in space activities and the influx of new actors has the potential to exacerbate many of the current threats to the long-term sustainable use of space,” SWF’s Simpson writes. “These threats include on-orbit crowding, radio-frequency interference, and the chances of an incident in space sparking or escalating geopolitical tensions on Earth.”

Statistical representation of the
estimated 500,000 pieces of space debris one centimeter and larger in orbit.
Source: Analytical Graphic

Array of topics

The over 140-page handbook is both succinct and readable, rich in comment on a large number of topics, from space treaties, freedom of exploration and use of space, space traffic management, and orbital debris to use of nuclear power sources in space and protection of celestial bodies.

SWF’s stated intent of the volume is to provide new actors with a broad overview of the fundamental principles, laws, norms, and best practices for peaceful, safe, and responsible activities in space.

To access this highly informative handbook, go to:


Credit: U.S. Air Force

Credit: U.S. Air Force

CNN is ready to drop on the TV watcher a special report – “War in Space: The Next Battlefield” – airing Tuesday, November 29th at 9 p.m. Eastern Time.

“The stakes couldn’t be higher. How the US responds to this new threat could determine who wins the defining conflict of the 21st century,” explains a CNN overview on the television show.

The first X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle waits in the encapsulation cell of the Evolved Expendable Launch vehicle on April 5, 2010 at the Astrotech facility in Titusville, Fla. Half of the Atlas V five-meter fairing is visible in the background. Credit: U.S. Air Force

The first X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle waits in the encapsulation cell of the Evolved Expendable Launch vehicle on April 5, 2010 at the Astrotech facility in Titusville, Fla. Half of the Atlas V five-meter fairing is visible in the background.
Credit: U.S. Air Force

Advanced capabilities

Those featured in the show include: Gen. John Hyten, head of US Strategic Command; Gen. William Shelton, former head of Space Command; and Peter Singer, who advises the Defense Department on space threats and authored “Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War,” which runs through a scenario of space war.

America is “quietly developing advanced capabilities” that could, some day, have defensive or offensive missions in space, explains a CNN promo on the show.

Sounding the alarm

New weapons include the US Navy’s Laser Weapons System, or LAWs, the US military’s first operational laser weapon now deployed in the Persian Gulf on board the USS Ponce. Also, add in the X-37B, a pilotless space drone resembling the space shuttle without windows or a cockpit, a craft that has already flown multiple missions to space, CNN explains.

Russia and China are making rapid advances, with some of the most senior military commanders sounding the alarm that this is a war — the next world war and the first to extend beyond the confines of Earth – one that America could lose.

For more information on this CNN production, go to:

Credit: The University of Pennsylvania Press

Credit: The University of Pennsylvania Press



Heavenly ambitions

For more information on this topic and related issues, take a look at this book, Heavenly Ambitions – America’s Quest to Dominate Space by Joan Johnson-Freese, Professor in the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval War College.

Chapters include: “Space: The Final Cold War Frontier”; “Space Weapons: Fact and Fiction”; and “Globalizing Space.”





For more information on this book, published by The University of Pennsylvania Press, go to:

Listen to this podcast by Johnson-Freese at:


Also, check out the latest from Johnson-Freese, Space Warfare in the 21st Century: Arming the Heavens.

This book examines the recent shift in US space policy and the forces that continually draw the US back into a space-technology security dilemma.

The dual-use nature of the vast majority of space technology, meaning of value to both civilian and military communities and being unable to differentiate offensive from defensive intent of military hardware, makes space an area particularly ripe for a security dilemma.



For more information on this offering, go to:



Credit: LPI

Credit: LPI

The Moon, Mars, the asteroids…and beyond…which shall it be?

Given the shift in U.S. political polarity, there is seemingly resurgence in “back to the Moon” thinking.

To regain your lunar legs, beef up on all things Moon by reading an impressive and informative book by Paul D. Spudis, a senior staff scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas.

Credit: Smithsonian Books/Brian Barth

Credit: Smithsonian Books/Brian Barth

His book — The Value of the Moon: How to Explore, Live, and Prosper in Space Using the Moon’s Resources – is available from Smithsonian Books and was released earlier this year.

Three reasons

In ten chapters, Spudis underscores three reasons for a U.S. return to the Moon: it is close, it is interesting, and it is useful.

“The Moon is the first extraterrestrial object after leaving Earth orbit and it is a highly desirable place to visit and utilize,” Spudis writes. “Why would we not want to explore and use it?”

Spudis adds that “other nations clearly see the value of the Moon. Why can’t we?”

Credit: LPI

Credit: LPI

European eyes

Meanwhile, European eyes on space are turning to the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Ministerial Council to be held in Lucerne, Switzerland on December 1-2. Ministers in charge of space activities from the 22 ESA Member States and Canada will meet to decide on future space activities for Europe.

On the table among a long list of items, ESA contribution to the upcoming Russian-led Luna-Resource Lander (Luna 27) mission. It’s aimed at exploring for the first time the South polar region of the Moon and measuring the water believed to exist there and determine its origin.

Credit: LPI/USAF

Credit: LPI/USAF


So too is build-up of a European lunar exploration user community to exploit the engineering/scientific data and the other benefits generated during the Luna 27 project.

Also looming in ESA discussion is the Moon Village, espoused by Jan Wörner, ESA’s Director General.

Space 4.0

The Ministerial Council takes place in the advent of the Space 4.0 era, ESA declares.

“Space 4.0 represents the evolution of the space sector into a new era, characterized by a new playing field,” observes a recent ESA press release. “This era is unfolding through interaction between governments, private sector, society and politics. Space 4.0 is analogous to, and is intertwined with, Industry 4.0, which is considered as the unfolding fourth industrial revolution of manufacturing and services.”

Credit: ESA

Credit: ESA

Vocal on village

Wörner notes that the Moon Village concept was developed through a process of thorough analysis “but it is vital to understand that what we are describing is neither a project nor a program.”

The ESA chief adds that by prompting discussion of a Moon Village “we do not mean a development planned around houses, some shops and a community center,” he explains.

“Rather, the term ‘village’ in this context refers this: a community created when groups join forces without first sorting out every detail, instead simply coming together with a view to sharing interests and capabilities,” Wörner points out.

3D-Printed lunar base design. Credit: ESA/Foster + Partners

3D-Printed lunar base design.
Credit: ESA/Foster + Partners

It is precisely the open nature of the concept, Wörner continues, “that would allow many nationalities to go to the Moon and take part while leaving behind them on Earth any differences of opinion.”

Wörner also concludes that it is clear humans will take part in crewed flights farther into the Solar System, “so the Moon Village could also act as the perfect springboard and testing ground with that objective in mind.”

Note: For more information on the Paul Spudis book — The Value of the Moon: How to Explore, Live, and Prosper in Space Using the Moon’s Resources —go to:


Credit: National Geographic

Credit: National Geographic

The next frontier in space exploration is Mars, the red planet—and human habitation of Mars isn’t much farther off.

In October 2015, NASA declared Mars “an achievable goal;” that same season, Ridley Scott and Matt Damon’s The Martian drew crowds into theaters, grossing nearly half a billion dollars in the first two months. Now the National Geographic Channel goes years fast-forward with “Mars,” a six-part series documenting and dramatizing the next 25 years as humans land on and learn to live on Mars.

Following on the visionary success of Buzz Aldrin’s Mission to Mars and the visual glory of Marc Kaufman’s Mars Up Close, this companion book to the Nat Geo series shows the science behind the mission and the challenges awaiting those brave individuals. The book combines science, technology, photography, art, and story-telling, offering what only National Geographic can create. Clear scientific explanations, gorgeous photography from outer space and the planet itself, and dramatic scenes from the TV series featuring exquisitely constructed sets made to replicate Mars make the Mars experience real and provide amazing visuals to savor and return to again and again.

304 pages; 200 color illustrations
9 1/8″ x 10 7/8″
© 2016

Author Bio
Ron Howard has made a lifelong career in television and film, winning numerous accolades and awards as actor, director, and producer. He is co-chair with Brian Grazer of Imagine Entertainment, which has recently partnered with National Geographic on Breakthrough as well as Red Planet.

Leonard David is an award-winning space journalist who has been reporting on space activities for over 50 years. He frequently contributes to the website as their “Space Insider Columnist” and is the coauthor of Buzz Aldrin’s Mission to Mars. In 2015, he became the first recipient of the American Astronautical Society’s (AAS) “Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History” in the category of journalism, and in 2010 he received the National Press Club Award for his space journalism.

For more information on the book – Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet — to be released October 25th, go to:

Also go to Amazon at:

Credit: Rio Grande Books

Credit: Rio Grande Books


Book Review: The Complete Space Buff’s Bucket List, by Loretta Hall; Rio Grande Books; 2016; Cost: $15.95.

Maybe it’s my old age setting in. But a new book just showed up in my mail box that is so timely.

Loretta Hall has authored The Complete Space Buff’s Bucket List – 100 Space Things to Do Before You Die.

What a romp! And as she notes herself – it’s all “tourific.”

Hall is a New Mexico-based freelance writer and nonfiction author. The book is the fourth in the Rio Grande Books “Bucket List” series – so why not space!

Hall took on the challenge and has written an absolutely delightful volume for confirmed space aficionados and others that are on the cusp of being space adventurers.

Range of intellectual and physical activities

“I have discovered many new things to do and see,” Hall writes in the opening pages of the book. Adds David Livingston, host of The Space Show: It’s an “excellent list of exciting and worthwhile things to do in your lifetime, either alone or with your family and friends.”

Points out former shuttle astronaut, Mike Mullane: “I now have a new resource to map my way back into space.”

Most items on this Bucket List include URLs for websites associated with listed items.

“I wanted to give you an idea of the order of magnitude for planning and comparison,” Hall writes. “Together, the 100 items on this list encompass a broad range of intellectual and physical activities that involve all five senses.”

Author Loretta Hall gets into the swing of things in her latest book. Credit: Jerry Hall

Author Loretta Hall gets into the swing of things in her latest book.
Credit: Jerry Hall

This is an easy read with 100 bucket list suggestions, including stops at a planetarium, a visit to a meteor crater, indoor skydiving, and a way to experience human factors training for commercial spaceflight.

Before heavenly ascension

The countdown for fun starts at #100 in the book. Subsequent pages lead to Hall’s number one slot. I won’t tell you what that is, but you’ll likely agree.

Hall also recently wrote Space Pioneers: In their Own Words, also published by Rio Grande Books.

This is a welcomed, creative, and pleasurable book for all ages – or those of us trying to quickly assemble our personal bucket list of to-do items before heavenly ascension. No worries. The book incorporates a blank list in the back of the book to write down your favorites too!

For your copy, go to:

Credit: TED Books/Simon & Schuster

Credit: TED Books/Simon & Schuster

There are two new and invaluable books on Mars, both of them ideal for those ready to settle down on the Red Planet:

How We’ll Live on Mars by Stephen Petranek

The International Mars Research Station – An exciting new plan to create a permanent human presence on Mars authored by Shaun Mark Moss.


Stephen Petranek is a career writer spanning some 40 years of publishing on science, nature, technology and politics.

How We’ll Live on Mars is a blend of those themes, nicely packaged in a nine chapter book that is well-written and researched – it’s a sheer delight to read.

TED Books is under the Simon & Schuster brand name, with this volume containing a mid-section of stunning color images.

For those still edgy about trekking to Mars, you’ll find this book comforting. The author tackles a number of “big questions” such as radiation factors and the microgravity effects of space travel on the human body – and adapting to Mars’ low gravity.

In the book, there’s a healthy dose of Elon Musk’s campaign to send humans to Mars. In addition, you’ll find some interesting discussion of terraforming the Red Planet to make Mars in Earth’s image.

This book is a unique blend of observations, bracketing the author’s view that within twenty years, humans will live on Mars.

“When the first humans set foot on Mars, the moment will be more significant in terms of technology, philosophy, history, and exploration than any that have come before it…we will no longer be a one-planet species.”

For ordering information, go to:

To read about Petranek’s TED Talk about colonizing Mars, go to:

Credit: CreateSpace

Credit: CreateSpace


Shaun Moss is an Australian computer scientist and also director of Mars Society Australia. He makes the case that settling Mars and becoming a multi-planetary species will be one of the most important steps in human evolution.

Within its 300 pages, The International Mars Research Station is alive with technical detail.

As Moss notes, the book is an exercise in aerospace engineering. The volume is loaded with creative ideas all adding up to blueprinting a near-term affordable and achievable way to send multiple international crews to Mars – and return them home safe and sound.

What I found appealing is Moss calling attention to the SpaceX Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule designs, as well as the use of expandable modules by Bigelow Aerospace.

The attention to detail – from crafting international partnerships and food production to using local Martian resources and space suit requirements – makes this book a true treasure. While being a technical tour-de-force of ideas, Moss paints a clear picture of the needed pieces to send crews to Mars and sustain a human presence there.

Moss has done an impressive amount of research for this book. Even the most seasoned Mars architect will find this volume a very useful and informative resource.

For book ordering information, go to:

For a article on Moss and this how-to-do-it book, go to:

Credit: International Space Business Council 2015

Credit: International Space Business Council 2015

This just issued space careers book shows how to find an out-of-this-world job.

“Space Careers” (International Space Business Council, 2015), by Leonard David and Scott Sacknoff, contains detailed information about the many career paths in the space industry — far beyond “astronaut.”

The book is aimed at high school, college and graduate students, or people looking for jobs in the industry, and the idea is to give accurate, up-to-date information on the careers that are out there beyond just astronaut (but it gives tips on how to become an astronaut, too).

To read the full review by Sarah Lewin, Staff Writer at, go to:

Credit: NASA, ESA, D. Calzetti (University of Massachusetts), H. Ford (Johns Hopkins University), and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration

Credit: NASA, ESA, D. Calzetti (University of Massachusetts), H. Ford (Johns Hopkins University), and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration


The author of a new study of evolutionary convergence argues that the development of life on Earth is predictable, meaning that similar organisms should therefore have appeared on other, Earth-like planets by now.

“The almost-certainty of ET being out there means that something does not add up, and badly. We should not be alone, but we are.”

That’s the view of leading evolutionary biologist, Simon Conway Morris, a Fellow at St John’s College, University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England. That outlook and others are carried in his new book The Runes of Evolution – How the Universe Became Self-Aware.

Rigid set of rules

Extra-terrestrials that resemble humans should have evolved on other, Earth-like planets, making it increasingly paradoxical that we still appear to be alone in the universe, Conway Morris suggests.

According to a University of Cambridge press statement, the book claims that evolution is far from random, but a predictable process that operates according to a fairly rigid set of rules.

Simon Conway Morris Credit: Map of Life website

Simon Conway Morris
Credit: Map of Life website

“If that is the case, then it follows that life similar to that on Earth would also develop in the right conditions on other, equivalent planets. Given the growing number of Earth-like planets of which astronomers are now aware, it is increasingly extraordinary that aliens that look and behave something like us have not been found,” Conway Morris contends.

Inevitable consequence

Conway Morris has previously raised the prospect that alien life, if out there, would resemble earthlings – with limbs, heads, and bodies. In his new book, he adds that any Earth-like planet should also evolve thunniform predators (like sharks), pitcher plants, mangroves, and mushrooms, among many other things.

Limbs, brains and intelligence would, similarly, be “almost guaranteed.” The traits of human-like intelligence have evolved in other species – the octopus and some birds, for example, both exhibit social playfulness – and this, Conway Morris observes, indicates that intelligence is an inevitable consequence of evolution that would characterize extraterrestrials as well.

Perplexing issue

“The number of Earth-like planets seems to be far greater than was thought possible even a few years ago,” Conway Morris notes. “That doesn’t necessarily mean that they have life, because we don’t necessarily understand how life originates. The consensus offered by convergence, however, is that life is going to evolve wherever it can.”

Credit: Map of Life website

Credit: Map of Life website


Conway Morris adds: “I would argue that in any habitable zone that doesn’t boil or freeze, intelligent life is going to emerge, because intelligence is convergent. One can say with reasonable confidence that the likelihood of something analogous to a human evolving is really pretty high. And given the number of potential planets that we now have good reason to think exist, even if the dice only come up the right way every one in 100 throws, that still leads to a very large number of intelligences scattered around, that are likely to be similar to us.”

If this is so, as the book suggests, then it makes Enrico Fermi’s famous paradox – why, if aliens exist, we have not yet been contacted – even more perplexing.


The Runes of Evolution, by Simon Conway Morris, is published by Templeton Press at:

Also, go to this Cambridge University press release:

Check out this Map of Life website at:

Credit: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Credit: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.


The Orbital Perspective – Lessons in Seeing the Big Picture from a Journey of 71 Million Miles by Ron Garan; Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.; $27.95 (Hardcover); 2015.

There have been a number of “tell-all” books authored by former space travelers. But this book tells all and more.

Ron Garan spent 178 days in space, carrying out four spacewalks. He flew on both the U.S. Space Shuttle and Russian Soyuz spacecraft, and spent 18 days at the bottom of the ocean participated in the joint NASA-NOAA, NEEMO-9 mission.

Garan has authored this book about these experiences, but also his shift in perception. He has viewed Earth from space, and gained viewpoints while working on development projects on the ground. This book is a synthesis of the two – and the result is an engaging, thought-provoking read.

Drawing from the book, you’ll find some stimulating themes:

Looking Skyward: If nations can join together to build the most complex structure ever built in space – the International Space Station — imagine what can be achieved by working together to overcome the challenges facing all here on Earth.

Looking Earthward: Gazing back at Earth from space can fill you with insight: Each and every one of us is riding through the Universe together on this spaceship we call Earth and that we are all in this together.

Looking Forward: Possibilities are only limited by our imagination and our will to act, and don’t accept the status quo on our planet. Nothing is impossible, including the elimination of suffering and conflict here on Earth.

In short, The Orbital Perspective is a call to action- how best to care for the most important space station of all: Planet Earth.

Yes, this is a book about space – filling that space with hope, creativity and collaboration.

For more information on this book, go to:

For a dedicated website related to this book, go to:

Garan has also founded the initiative Fragile Oasis, championing his “Orbital perspective” message to improve life on Earth. Go to:

By Leonard David

Griffith Observatory Event