Re­views & Pre­views

New Space Fron­tiers: Ven­tur­ing Into Earth Or­bit and Be­yond

Air & Space Smithsonian - - Front Page - by Piers Bi­zony. Zenith Press, 2014. 166 pp., $35.

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THE BOOK Piers Bi­zony pro­vides a com­pre­hen­sive, pro­lif­i­cally il­lus­trated look at some of the ve­hi­cles, mis­sions, and plans for the in­ter­na­tional ex­plo­ration and de­vel­op­ment of space. We are on the verge of a new era in space ex­plo­ration. For the first time in his­tory, pri­vate ac­cess to space is be­com­ing al­most rou­tine.

WHY THE AU­THOR DE­CIDED TO WRITE IT

“I looked around at book­stores, and there was a lot of space his­tory and a lot of gen­eral books about space and the cos­mos, but there didn’t seem to be any­thing very spe­cific about the im­me­di­ate fu­ture prospects. I thought it was worth ad­dress­ing that.”

A CHAT WITH PIERS BI­ZONY

Why did you de­cide to tell this story vis­ually as much as through text?

As a space en­thu­si­ast—some­one who be­lieves in its im­por­tance to our cul­ture—i’m aware of the need to put these books in front of au­di­ences who don’t nec­es­sar­ily know much about space and s sur­prise them. Let them flick through aba book. Let them look at the cool p pic­tures and be re­minded that space is a fan­tas­tic adventure.

W Why should we con­tinue to se send hu­mans into space? It’s amaz­ing to see what ro­bots can do. But it’s also frus­trat­ing be­cause it can take them weeks to scrabble around and get a thim­ble­ful of soil. A hu­man be­ing could do an enor­mous amount of sci­ence in a sin­gle af­ter­noon if only we could get them in place.

What do you see as the proper role of govern­ment ver­sus pri­vate space­flight in the fu­ture?

Govern­ment agen­cies are es­sen­tial to get the ball rolling, but there has to come a point where the broader cul­ture takes more of a role. It should be pos­si­ble for us to lever­age the knowl­edge we’ve gained over the last half-cen­tury of space­flight and make it more eco­nom­i­cal—make it more like a con­ven­tional trans­porta­tion busi­ness model. That’s be­gin­ning to hap­pen.

What will be the im­pact of the Space­shiptwo ac­ci­dent on the en­thu­si­asm for manned com­mer­cial space­flight?

I am re­minded of the af­ter­math of the Apollo 1 fire in Jan­uary 1967. There was a sense that the en­tire Apollo project might be put on hold or even can­celled be­cause the Apollo 1 fire had been so dis­cour­ag­ing. We for­get how close this grand en­ter­prise came to can­cel­la­tion. NASA’S chief at the time, Jim Webb, dis­cussed with his se­nior staff how best to re­cover from the fire and re­gain mo­men­tum. In the fi­nal anal­y­sis, Webb said: “The only way we can re­cover is to fly some­thing.” So that’s where we are. Some­one has to fly some­thing—and make it work.

MICHAEL BELFIORE IS THE AU­THOR OF

AND PI­LOTS IS BOLDLY PRI­VA­TIZ­ING SPACE.

ROCK­E­TEERS:

HOW A VI­SION­ARY BAND OF BUSI­NESS LEAD­ERS, ENGI­NEERS,

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