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Back to the Moon Hardcover – December 7, 2010


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About the Author

Travis S. Taylor—“Doc” Taylor to his friends—has earned his soubriquet the hard way:  He has a doctorate in optical science and engineering, a master's degree in physics, a master's degree in aerospace engineering, a master's degree in astronomy, and a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. Dr. Taylor has worked on various programs for the Department of Defense and NASA for the past sixteen years.  He's currently working on several advanced propulsion concepts, very large space telescopes, space-based beamed energy systems, and next generation space launch concepts. He has appeared in several episodes of the History Channel’s Universe series. He lives in Auburn, AL with his wife Karen and their daughter.

 

Les Johnson is a NASA physicist, manager, author, husband and father.  By day, he serves as the Deputy Manager for the Advanced Concepts Office at the NASA George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, one of the coolest jobs in the universe.  In the early 2000s, he was NASA’s Manager for Interstellar Propulsion Research and later managed the In-Space Propulsion Technology Project. He was technical consultant for the movie Lost in Space and has appeared on the Discovery Channel series, “Physics of the Impossible” in the “How to Build a Starship” episode. He has also appeared in three episodes of the Science Channel series, Exodus Earth. In his spare time he writes popular science books and articles, including Solar Sails: A Novel approach to Interplanetary Travel, Living Off the Land in Space: Green Roads to the Cosmos and Paradise Regained: The Regreening of Earth.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Baen; F First Edition edition (December 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439134057
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439134054
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #678,794 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I have been a great fan of both Les Johnson and Travis Taylor for many years, and eagerly anticipated this collaboration. I was not dissapointed. Except for recent political decisions, this novel, Back to the Moon, would almost not qualify as science fiction. It's more like a techo-thriller due to the great attention to accuracy of the science and technology with minimal extrapolation into the near future. Dr. Taylor addresses this irony in the afterward, where he describes how woefully underfunded NASA has become, but even so could still have achieved much more if the politicians hadn't kept moving the goal posts every 4 to 8 years. The afterward is practically a pro-space manifesto, and the entire work gets my highest recommendation to anyone interested in space exploration. And it is a great entertaining read, as well.
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"Back to the Moon" by Travis S. Taylor and Les Johnson does for near future space travel what Tom Clancy's novels used to do for near future war and terrorism. Too bad the near future the book describes has been jettisoned by President Obama.

"Back to the Moon" is set about eight to ten years in the future and concerns events surrounding NASA's planned return to the Moon. The book is filled with technical detail about how the Ares/Orion/Altair system would have worked, beginning with an unmanned shakedown mission to test the new Moon ship's systems.

In the meantime, a private space entrepreneur has sold enough seats on his new space craft, Dreamcscape, to fly a loop around the Moon on the vacation trip of the lifetime.
Finally, the Chinese are mounting their own lunar expedition, sending their own unmanned lunar lander on a shakedown mission.

When the Dreamscape, with its passenger list of the well heeled and adventurous passes behind the Moon, the commercial cruise ship picks up a low power signal from what is apparently a crew of Chinese space explorers, having crash landed on the Moon. The "unmanned shakedown mission" was in fact a Chinese attempt to steal away the glory from America to land the first people on the Moon in almost fifty years.

So the first American expedition to the Moon since 1972 becomes a rescue mission. Here the novel hits its stride, with enough death defying situations and potentially life ending technical "anomalies" (to coin the NASA term) to--well--fill a good two hour action film directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Winston Lanelle on March 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover
First some background: I'm a 30-something physics Ph.D who hasn't read a Sci-Fi book since 'Dune' back in high school. When I got this book as a gift I almost didn't read it because the cover reminded me of some 1950's pulp fiction novel. But I did read it, and I'm glad I did. I liked the attention to technical detail and the story was certainly exciting and suspenseful. I have two criticisms. First, the parallel story thread about the Chinese espionage was interesting, but it ended rather abruptly and there was no tie-in later in the story. This left me wondering if the only point of this was to make a subtle political point. Second, the authors are clearly pro-manned space flight, and the characters go so far as to criticize unmanned robotic space probes as "boring". While the story clearly portrayed the excitement of manned space flight, I don't think it made a good case for its necessity to do great science. I think the book did a somewhat better job making the case for manned space flight's actual and potential economic benefits. After reading this book, I am motivated to go off and read up on the pros and cons of manned space flight, which is a good sign that this book is entertaining as well as thought provoking.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Arthur W. Jordin on November 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Back to the Moon (2010) is a standalone SF novel. It is set in a near future when America and China are racing to the Moon. The civilian sector also is interested in Moon flights.

In this novel, Bill Stetson is a NASA astronaut slated to be mission commander on the first mission back to the Moon.

Paul Gesling is a retired Navy pilot and the chief pilot for Space Excursions. He will pilot the Dreamscape on the first commercial voyage around the Moon.

Gary Childers is the founder and chief salesman of Space Excursions. As a very wealthy man, Childers used the money he made in coal to make his childhood dreams come true. His company is planning to take very wealthy civilians around the Moon and back.

In this story, Bill is Flight Controller on the Blue Team during the test run of the automated moon flight. Something goes wrong on the mating of the Orion crew vessel with the Earth Departure Stage and Bill takes remote control of the Orion. After successfully mating the Orion to the EDS, analysis of the flight telemetry indicates that a circuit board might have been defective.

Afterward, the test run flies itself to the Moon, sends the lander down to the surface and then brings the ascent stage back to the Orion. Mission Control loses telemetry from the ascent stage, but it never losses the link with the Orion. It successfully docks with the Orion and the assemblage returns to Earth.

The communication problems seriously bother the NASA engineers. Both failures could have been caused by one type of circuit board widely used in space vehicles and elsewhere. These boards are made in China.

Meanwhile, Space Excursions is having problems of its own.
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