Category Archives: Space books

Listen to the Story of Apollo 8, when humans first left earth and orbited another world

Bob Zimmerman tells me his book, Genesis: The Story of Apollo 8, which tells the dramatic history of the first mission to send humans beyond earth orbit, is now available as an unabridged audiobook.  From the press release:

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of one of mankind’s boldest adventures, the first manned flight to another world. To mark the occasion, an audio version of the first book about the mission of Apollo 8 has been released, narrated by Grover Gardner, a legend in the ears of fans of audiobooks all over the planet.

Says Valerie Anders, wife of Apollo 8 crew member Bill Anders, “When I first read this excellent account, published before the end of the space shuttle era, I was delighted.”

Now, with the advent of high quality audio books and online merchants like iTunes and Audible, and the resonant and expressive voice of narrator Grover Garner, everyone can enjoy this recording of this pivotal moment in space history.

While more recent books have been published on the mission of Apollo 8 (most of which rely heavily on Zimmerman’s work), none has captured the impact the Apollo program had on the families of the astronauts nearly so well as “Genesis – the story of Apollo 8.” The new forward to “Genesis,” by Valerie Anders, contains a moving tribute to those pilots who never returned from their missions – not as faraway as the moon, but just as dangerous and far more frequent.


Space books: “Spaceport Earth: The Reinvention of Spaceflight” by Joe Pappalardo

Joe Pappalardo, an editor at Popular Mechanics who often reports on space topics, has written the book, Spaceport Earth: The Reinvention of Spaceflight. He discusse the many NewSpace developments of the past several years and looks especially at the emergence of commercial launch facilities:

Is there a future in orbit? This timely book reveals the state of spaceflight at a crucial juncture in the industry’s history.

It’s the 21st-century and everything about the space industry is changing. Rather than despair over the end of American manned missions and a moribund commercial launch market, private sector companies are now changing the way humanity accesses orbit. Upstarts including Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin are building a dizzying array of new spacecraft and rockets, not just for government use, but for any paying customer. At the heart of this space revolution are spaceports, the center and literal launching pads of spaceflight. Spaceports cost hundreds of millions of dollars, face extreme competition, and host operations that do not tolerate failures―which can often be fatal.

Aerospace journalist Joe Pappalardo has witnessed space rocket launches around the world, from the jungle of French Guiana to the coastline of California. In his comprehensive work Spaceport Earth, Pappalardo describes the rise of private companies in the United States and how they are reshaping the way the world is using space for industry and science. Spaceport Earth is a travelogue through modern space history as it is being made, offering space enthusiasts, futurists, and technology buffs a close perspective of rockets and launch sites, and chronicling the stories of industrial titans, engineers, government officials, billionaires, schemers, and politicians who are redefining what it means for humans to be a spacefaring species.

Here is a review of the book Review: Spaceport Earth – The Space Review.

And this is an entertaining interview with the author: John Batchelor Show – Spaceport Earth: The Reinvention of Spaceflight by Joe Pappalardo. PART 1 of 4: Texas and there billionaire rocketeers. @PappalardoJoe


Space book: “Treknology” by Ethan Siegel

In astrophysicist Ethan Siegel’s new book Treknology: The Science of Star Trek from Tricorders to Warp Drive, he looks at the impact of Star Trek and science fiction in general on technological innovation and development : Star Treknology: Imagining The Future Into Being : 13.7: Cosmos And Culture : NPR

And how about that most Star Trek of Star Trek transport modalities — the transporter? Siegel manages to be both concise and complete in his discussion of the various ways a transporter might work. Do you actually move all the atoms of your body from one place to another? Or do you just transport the information about those atoms and then rebuild the body? These questions allow Siegel to unpack some basics of quantum physics, like the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. From there, he opens discussions of information and quantum computing with questions like: How can you map the atoms in your body for transport when you can’t know exactly where they are leading? All of these ideas are laid out at just the right level for a light-hearted science book about science fiction.

Treknology is pretty complete. It has a section on weapons and defense (deflector shields, phasers), a section on computing (the holodeck, androids) and a section on medicine and biology (recorders, cybernetics). There is a lot more, too, and each chapter in each section is richly illustrated with images from the shows and well-composed scientific diagrams. That means a lot of eye-candy here for both Trek and science fans.


Space Studies Institute giving away Kindle versions of Gerard K. O’Neill’s ‘2081’ and ‘The High Frontier’

The late Princeton physics professor Gerard K. O’Neill was a major influence on many space development activists and entrepreneurs. For example, as O’Neill advocated, Jeff Bezos sees millions of people living in large in-space colonies and heavy industries moved off earth and into space: Jeff Bezos blue origin calls for a dynamic entrepreneurial space – CNBC

“The Stanford Torus – This space habitat design resulted from a NASA-Ames/Stanford University summer study. It’s a wheel 1.1 miles in diameter.” More space colony artwork.

The Space Studies Institute was founded by O’Neill and this week is offering free Kindle versions of two of O’Neill’s books:

** Right Now 2081 and The High Frontier are FREE | Space Studies Institute:

We broke the news yesterday for SSI Associates to get their jump start and now it’s open for everyone:

For a limited time The Space Studies Institute is giving away the Kindle editions of Gerard K. O’Neill’s 2081 and The High Frontier for free!

2081, an amazing look at the future rising around us, and The High Frontierthe cornerstone book of the NewSpace generation, are both regularly priced at $6.99 USD but right now they are  online around the planet for free download from the websites and Kindle stores.

SSI President Gary C Hudson shows the evolution of reading… as predicted in the book 2081

For details on 2081, just jump down to the previous SSI Blog postand as for The High Frontier, well, if you haven’t heard of it then it’s time you laid the right foundation in your Space education.

Gerard K. O’Neill’s The High Frontier is a landmark book.  A stunning, readable treatise.

Space is the place where there are no limits  and where benefits to ALL of Humanity – everywhere – are free for the using with no need to harm anyone.

Sound far fetched? Sound naively Utopian and absolutely unachievable? Until a person actually reads The High Frontier for themselves, they should be careful about jumping to conclusions.

In The High Frontier, Princeton Nuclear Physicist Gerard K. O’Neill asks the famous question:

“Is a planetary surface, any planetary surface,
really the best place for an expanding technological civilization?”

And then he systematically looks at what it means for a civilization to expand, what such a civilization truly needs for real positive growth, and finds that all of those requirements and more are in no way out of reach.

Professor O’Neill makes this book of real science and real technology readable by most everyone by using fascinating “Letters From Space” followed by clear explanations of the hows and whys.  O’Neill was a world-renowned scientist but he had the gift to make even the most technical information completely understandable.

If you’ve never personally read 2081 and The High Frontier, you are in for a truly amazing experience. If you haven’t read them in a while then now is a great time to refresh your memories!

To get your free copies, log into your account using your web browser or start the Kindle Store in your Kindle app or device to search for the “O’Neill Kindle 2081″ and “O’Neill Kindle The High Frontier”

Read on your Android, iOS or Windows Phone while in line at the grocery then pick up where you left off while relaxing at home with your tablet then start right up again on your Kindle Fire, Voyager or DX and even steal a few minutes at work using the Kindle program on your full Mac or Windows PC.

Pass the word!

The Space Studies Institute is giving away the Kindle editions of Gerard K. O’Neill’s 2081 and The High Frontier.

Twitter the news, Blog it, Facebook it, email it, spread the word and do it today!

** Gerard K. O’Neill’s 2081 is now an SSI Kindle Book! | Space Studies Institute:

Gerard K. O’Neill’s hopeful book of the human future, 2081, is now an SSI Kindle release!

What is 2081?

Gerard K. O’Neill’s The High Frontier is a classic of the Space Industry. World famous, it has been called “the book that launched a thousand Space careers.” 2081 may be lesser known but, believe us, it is no less fascinating or important. Here is the description we have put on the Kindle edition Amazon page:

E Ink slate tablets instead of paper books, grocery stores that let you check out without stopping for a cashier, instant as-needed delivery of any item by intelligent systems, electric cars that go where you tell them without your having to pay attention, super-fast and silent underground public transportation that people actually enjoy riding, whole communities enjoying island climates in the middle of snowy winters, working from home with all of the human interaction of going to a job, carts that politely follow you carrying your loads and ready to guide you when you’ve lost your way, houses that listen and are always ready to answer any question or organize any part of your life, cheap energy to fuel every device without adding to the carbon, heat or disposal issues of fossil and nuclear fuels. This is your world in 2081.

Princeton Nuclear Physicist Gerard K. O’Neill, most famous for revolutionizing high energy physics labs and particle accelerators with his invention of Storage Ring technologies, and for his view of the potential for thousands of regular people to enjoy satisfying and productive jobs and lives in Space, looked back at the history of looking forward, looked at the realities of where we were in 1981 and envisioned, logically, how regular people would be living in the year 2081. Some of the gadgets and infrastructure that he thought would take a hundred years are with us already, others are in the news today as being right around the corner and some are just waiting for smart people to understand the need for them and make them real parts of our daily lives.

“This book is in four parts. In the first, ‘The Art of Prophecy,’ we’ll explore in a pragmatic way the lessons that can be learned from the colorful history of earlier attempts at predicting the future. In the second, ‘The Drivers of Change,’ I’ll describe five developments that I believe will determine, alone and in combination, the course of the next hundred years. In the third part, ‘Life in 2081,’ I invite you to join me in a tour through the world in which our great-grandchildren will just be at their prime. In the fourth part, ‘Wild Cards,’ we’ll explore the most exciting developments of a century from now that are just at the limits of possibility – and some that are, perhaps, well beyond those limits.”

“It’s an exciting future that I’m predicting, even more different from the late twentieth-century than our own time is from 1881. Some people may be frightened rather than attracted by the prospect of so much change still to come. But we need not be afraid if we approach the future armed with understanding.”

“We have a responsibility beyond mere curiosity to learn as much about the future as we can, because we must choose those actions that will insure not only the survival of humanity, but an improvement in its condition.”

Gerard K. O’Neill

Books: “How to Make a Spaceship” + “Martians Abroad” + “Opening the High Frontier”

Some books to interest:

** How to Make a Spaceship: A Band of Renegades, an Epic Race, and the Birth of Private Spaceflight by Julian Gutherie

I quite enjoyed this history of the Ansari XPRIZE, which was won by Burt Rutan‘s team in October of 2004 after completing two flights to suborbital space by the SpaceShipOne (SS1) rocket plane within two weeks.  The culmination of the $10M competition came about after many years of struggles by Peter Diamandis and his team to find sponsors, entrants, and prize money.

Diamandis, a Harvard trained medical doctor who also co-founded the International Space University, the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS), and several companies, is the focus of the book but there are extended profiles of many interesting characters who were involved in the competition such as Rutan, the SS1 pilots Mike Melvill and Brian Binnie, and Paul Allen, who backed the SS1 project. Diamandis was inspired by the $25,000 Orteig Prize, which Charles Lindbergh won in 1927 by flying the Spirit of St. Louis solo from New Jersey to Paris. How Charles Lindbergh’s grandson Erik Lindbergh comes to play a major role in the XPRIZE is one of the more intriguing stories in the book.


These two books were pointed to me by HS readers:

** Martians Abroad: A novel by Carrie Vaughn 

Here is a positive review: ‘Martians Abroad’ Is An Optimistic Glance Into Humanity’s Future | WCAI

Martians Abroad is a refreshingly optimistic change of pace, but it makes no secret about its precedents. It’s an open homage to Robert Heinlein’s juveniles, as his novels with adolescent protagonists were called — and one of those juveniles in particular, 1963’s Podkayne of Mars. The parallels are numerous. Heinlein’s heroine goes by the nickname Poddy. Her brother’s name is Clark. And they’re both sent abroad from their Martian home.

It’s this loving, retro-futuristic vibe that helps make Martians Abroad so endearing. Harking back to a more innocent time — but without downplaying the tribulations of contemporary adolescence — Vaughn has crafted a tribute to the power of science fiction, evoking a giddy sense of wonder and adventure about space exploration, technology, and human ingenuity. And, yes, even about being young.

** Opening the High Frontier: Our Future in Space by Eagle Sarmont 

A summary of the book:

A “Opening the High Frontier” is about how to make spaceflight affordable to everyone. It is about the ideas and technologies that will allow us to affordably build a spacefaring civilization, to build cities on the Moon and Mars, to build Space Colonies and Satellite Solar Power Stations, and to mine the asteroids. It is about a combination of concepts, some known and some not so well known, that can be affordably built right now with existing technology, that can make this happen. It is about our path to an unlimited future, our path to Mars and the rest of the solar system, and someday, the first step on our journey to the stars. It is about Opening the High Frontier for everyone.