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Entering Space: Creating a Spacefaring…

Entering Space: Creating a Spacefaring Civilization

by Robert Zubrin

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Zubrin offers his take on the various reasons for going into space, and shows that many of the often-cited ones are economically unfeasible. If you are interested in space, check this book out for sure. ( )
  bibliosk8er | Aug 14, 2012 |
With his back of the envelope calculations and forceful assertions, Robert Zubrin convincingly puts forth ideas that could potentially set humans on a journey to exploit the vast resources of space for the purpose of proliferating the species. His ideas are not for some advanced civilization far off in the future, but for us, in the 21st century.

Zubrin offers strong criticism and mindful praise to the aerospace industry and government agencies for their efforts to advance space exploration. A common sense approach to gaining cheap access to space and pioneering a strong presence on extraterrestrial outposts is presented throughout.

His premise for venturing into the cold, dark, seemingly lifeless void of space, is mostly based on the idea that a civilization that adopts isolationinism and squelches its desire to expand and explore the unknown, simply cannot survive. His ideas expand on a theory that attempts to classify civilizations based on their level of technological advancement. As it goes, a Type I civilization is one that gains full mastery of it's planet's resources and can traverse the distances of the surface unchallenged. A Type II civilization has developed the technology to travel and establish a presence throughout it's solar system. A Type III civilization, of course, would have mastered interstellar travel and the ability to flourish outside of it's host solar system. Zubrin claims that we have evolved into a durable species that has achieved Type I status, that we are on the verge of becoming Type II, and most importantly that we have the promise of achieving Type III status. The capabilities of our current launch sytems are considered to be antiquated by historical and political factors, and Zubrin makes no bones about those to blame. He is quick to point his finger at major corporations, such as his previous employer Lockheed Martin, and the current NASA administrators, as the nemesis of cheap access to space. Zubrin suggests solutions that include some of his own designs, and a lengthy discussion of what it will take to make a profit on orbit, which is what he views as the critical step to becoming a spacefaring civilization. He also suggests that we can all do something to contribute to the cause, beginning by joining his Mars Society.

Dr. Zubrin uses some simple astrodynamics calculations and chemistry concepts to explore the utilization of the raw materials already existing in outer space. The Moon has a modest amount of He3 that could potentially be mined for use in high-performance fusion rockets. Recent evidence suggests that the Moon may also contain useful amounts of water for Moon-basing, and certainly the far side of the Moon is a strategically unique position for conducting radio astronomy. The water, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen available on Mars could be used to implement the Mars Direct plan laid out by Zubrin in his previous book, "The Case for Mars". The plan here is to "travel light and live off the land". The fact that over two-thirds of all species that have ever lived on Earth have been wiped out by asteroids fuels an interesting discussion on the dangers of Earth-crossing asteroids, and the potential benefits of human asteroid exploration. Zubrin adopts a scaled down Mars Direct plan for the lesser planets he calls Gaiashield. The outer solar system could also potentially yield valuable resources. Saturn's moon Titan has an abundance of all of the elements necessary to support life, and Zubrin further discusses colonizing the Jovian sytem, moving "iceteroids", and using Kuiper Belt Objects (KBO's) as stepping stones to nearby stars.

Armed with data from a small army of robotic spacecraft, the work of many scientists, and his own careful investigations, Dr. Zubrin shows that space is anything but lifeless and uninhabitable. In fact, as he points out, the Universe is a haven for and most probably teeming with life, and that the resources that we need to conquer this final frontier are already there, waiting for us to utilize. Scientists have shown that our own solar system may have once supported life beyond Earth, and upon further inspection, we may find life indiginous to it's wildly diverse environments. Dr. Zubrin also points out that we may be able to detect intelligent life, not only by direct transmission, but also by the signature of advanced propulsion systems.

Entering Space is very well organized, includes more detailed "focus" sections and summaries on certain topics, and also contains an invaluable reference section for each chapter for further study.

Dr. Zubrin's work offers a powerful voice of hope for those of us who look to the stars as the origin and destiny of life. Readers will take care to note that the challenges of survival are not only technical, political, and economic, but that careful consideration of social and environmental issues is imperative. Completing global civilization, creating a spacefaring civilization, and entering galactic civilization, will require more than extraordinary engineering, it will demand generations of wisdom, compassion for all forms of life, and intense respect for the state of undisturbed nature.

originally posted at: http://www.amazon.com/review/R3G5YERCWO9FSY/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm ( )
  | Sep 27, 2011 | edit |
Zubrin's book, The Case For Mars is focused and outstanding. This book takes a broader view, going past Mars and into our more uncertain future. To me, it loses a little of the earlier book's excitement. There are a few updates to the portion dealing with Mars exploration and settlement, provided by facts occuring after the earlier book.

As always, Zubrin emphasizes the practical and economically feasable approach.

I still would rcommend the book. It does discuss some ideas on propulsion that were a little further along than during the writing of the first book.

Zubrin mentions the various space exploration backing groups and gives a short description of the focus of each. ( )
  billsearth | Jul 31, 2011 |
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Witness this new-made World, another Heav'n
From Heaven Gate not farr, founded in view
On the clear Hyaline, the Glassie Sea;
Of amplitude almost immense, with Starr's
Numerous, and every Starr perhaps a World
Of destined habitation.

-- John Milton, Paradise Lost
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0874779758, Hardcover)

Humans are not native to the Earth. So posits astronautical engineer Bob Zubrin in the opening of Entering Space. We're native to just a small sliver of it, the spot where our species originated in tropical Kenya. We set out from that paradise about 50,000 years ago, north into "the teeth of the Ice Age," and all the ground we've gained since then has been thanks to our tenacity and our tools.

Zubrin reasons that it's time we cover a little more ground. Written with a boyish enthusiasm and formidable techie know-how, Entering Space urges us to realize "the feasibility, the necessity, and the promise" of becoming a space-faring civilization, of colonizing our own solar system and beyond. And Zubrin, author of the influential and widely acclaimed The Case for Mars, knows his stuff--NASA adapted his plans for near-term human exploration of Mars, and Carl Sagan gave the author no less credit: "Bob Zubrin really, nearly alone, changed our thinking on this issue." Entering Space plots the second and third phases of humanity's course--now that we've mastered our own planet, Zubrin says we must first look to settling our solar system (beginning with Mars) and then to the galaxy beyond.

With its practicable visions of using "iceteroids" to terraform Mars and harnessing the power of the outlying gas giants ("the solar system's Persian Gulf"), Entering Space succeeds at making the fantastic seem attainable, the stuff of science fiction, science fact. --Paul Hughes

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:41:22 -0400)

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