It was published in 1974, so one would expect some of the material to be dated. That's fine of course. However, there is a lack of critical thinking g...moreIt was published in 1974, so one would expect some of the material to be dated. That's fine of course. However, there is a lack of critical thinking going on in this book as well, and that doesn't seem excusable regardless of the starting information.
Example: Terraforming Mars would be really expensive because the atmosphere is thin. So hey, let's go terraform Venus instead. Granted, the atmosphere is 100x thicker than Earth's and almost pure CO2 and the surface is a baked hellscape, but that can all be fixed by scattering some algae into the air to suck up all the CO2 and transform it into a paradise world. *smacks head* Here's what I mean by lack of critical thinking...photosynthesis requires WATER.
The rest of the book touches on the theory of relativity and deconstructing Jupiter to build a Dyson Ring around Sol, and wraps it up with a theological discussion about the laws of nature. Thin gruel.(less)
High-school level of introduction to information about Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, & Kuiper Belt. Useful info, but there was very little which could n...moreHigh-school level of introduction to information about Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, & Kuiper Belt. Useful info, but there was very little which could not also be gleaned from Wikipedia. About as interesting too. Nice collection of color pictures and interesting historical anecdotes. Unfortunately, there were an intolerable number of mislabeled graphics and equations with typos in them. Not what I'd expect from a second edition. Get a new editor! (less)
The major complaint I have with Return To The Moon is that the author's line of reasoning cannot be taken seriously as policy proposals between now an...moreThe major complaint I have with Return To The Moon is that the author's line of reasoning cannot be taken seriously as policy proposals between now and 2050, which is how he presents it. But if you pretend that he's talking about the 22nd century instead of the 21st, and if you ignore the alarmist chicken-little sham science in the first few chapters about how we are only decades away from running out of fossil fuels, the later chapters are at least plausible. It's otherwise well organized and easy to read, with a topic I find very interesting. Several of the chapters are quite good on Lunar geology and 3-He mining considerations, though others are unavoidably a tad dry (managerial lessons of the Apollo missions for example).
What I mean by sham science: First, he exaggerates current population growth and ignores the fact that the rate of growth is slowing, settling on an estimate of population in 2050 of 12 billion that is well above the highest UN projections. Second, he picks a growth in worldwide per capita energy consumption that is over 2.5x faster than historical trends which have held steady for over 200 years. Upon what does he base this extraordinary growth? The laudable goal of ending world poverty, but since when does anyone think that ending poverty is the world's actual mid-century goal? Aah, if only wishes were ponies. Third, he combines these crazy overestimates of growth with a serious underestimate of actual fossil fuel reserves to give the desired alarmist "result": that fossil fuels will be exhausted by mid-century. Then he proceeds to the contrived conclusion: that as a solution we'll be mining 3He from the Lunar landscape as the answer to Earth's energy crisis. Nevermind that mid-century research goals of ITER and other fusion facilities are aiming for economically feasibility of the much easier D-T reaction, rather than providing a serious source of worldwide energy. So the author just hand-waves over how we jump from demonstration of D-T fusion to fully developed D-3He fusion and mining of Lunar regolith to solve the world's problems in the next couple of decades. That's awfully optimistic for a field of science that has spent the last 50 years being "at least another 20 years away".(less)
Excellent resource, well researched, very detailed. Unfortunately, it reads like a 616 page project management flow chart. I only made it about 100 pa...moreExcellent resource, well researched, very detailed. Unfortunately, it reads like a 616 page project management flow chart. I only made it about 100 pages in before I started only reading the section titles and summaries.
Pick this up if you're interested in the non-technical aspects of management/politics/government/case studies for space projects between 1950 and 2000, as well as possible future projects in the 2000 - 2050 time frame.
If you're looking for SF ideas, or far future stuff, technical details, or pleasure reading, that's NOT what this tome is about. It's more like a huge HR training manual.(less)
A "light" overview of the engineering and astrophysical challenges of interstellar flight. Good information about our near stellar neighbors and other...moreA "light" overview of the engineering and astrophysical challenges of interstellar flight. Good information about our near stellar neighbors and other data tables available. The analysis of interstellar propulsion systems is the dominant topic, as it should be considering the difficulties, and the authors do an honest job of assessing a wide range of non-magical propulsion techniques.(less)