Space Exploration: Past, Present, Future by Carolyn Collins Petersen, Amberley Publishing/UK, December 2017; Hardcover: 360 pages, List price is $26.95.

Carolyn Collins Petersen has written a superb book, taking the reader on a step by step journey into deep space, reminding us of the historical roots of early visionary pioneers.

As the author notes in the book’s introduction: “My aim here is to give a taste of this grand, glorious enterprise we call space exploration. This book is just the start. Think of it as an executive summary, a taster to whet your appetite.”

In the following 10 chapters, the author covers in well-researched detail — from kites and balloon flights in ancient China, early thrusts of moving into the “space age,” then human steps into space and the global uprising of multiple nations engaging in outer space activities. She doesn’t skimp on the evolving commercial use of space as well as space mining, space law, robotic exploration, and the high-octane competition between old space versus new space.

I particularly enjoyed the chapter “Next Steps: Where Do we Go from Here?” That’s a complex and perplexing question, one that the author concludes it’s up to the interested countries of the world to answer. Still, given the heritage of space exploration carried out by multiple nations, this book offers some tantalizing glimpses of what could be.

Carolyn Collins Petersen is an accomplished writer. Take for example her well-received book Astronomy 101: From the Sun and Moon to Wormholes and Warp Drive, Key Theories, Discoveries, and Facts about the Universe. She also co-authored Hubble Vision and Visions of the Cosmos and also served as co-editor on The New Solar System, published jointly by Sky Publishing Corporation and Cambridge University Press.

This latest work, Space Exploration: Past, Present, Future is also a grand read and, indeed underscores the history-making and magnificent venture we call space exploration.

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