Computing, Science & Education
Outer space has been very useful – for satellites and telescopes, but not for humans. The last man to set foot on the Moon was fifty years ago, and the International Space Station is the sole lonely outpost of humans in space. This is now changing, helped by plummeting rocket launch costs.
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Outer space has been very useful – for satellites and telescopes, but not for humans. The last man to set foot on the Moon was fifty years ago, and the International Space Station is the sole lonely outpost of humans in space. This is now changing, helped by plummeting rocket launch costs. NASA plans a Moonbase, and there are plans for a manned mission to Mars. There have long been dreams of colonising space, but this pathbreaking book makes a cogent argument that the Moon and Mars are the wrong targets (the gravity is all wrong, for a start).
There is an alternative, first suggested by American physicist Gerard O’Neill in the 1970s: large freestanding cylinders rotated to provide artificial gravity, with an Earthlike biosphere inside. Little has been published on this idea since forty years ago, when it was well ahead of its time. This book updates the concept, and shows that it is viable. It examines how to protect habitats from meteorites and cosmic radiation, to create a sustainable Earthlike biosphere, and shows that the necessary resources to build and sustain habitats are available from near Earth asteroids.
An objection to O’Neill style habitats is that they would be extremely expensive to build. The book shows that is potentially not the case – in the long run, with fully developed space manufacturing, building habitats could become profitable investments. A critical path of steps to get there is described, and what might provide motivations to do so. This route opens the way to a spacefaring civilization, and emigration to space would ease the environmental pressure on an overcrowded Earth.
The assumptions throughout are realistic, current technology or reasonable extensions of it. The author’s background is in science and economics, the engineering assumptions have been thoroughly researched, and the book was reviewed by the US National Space Society before publication.
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