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Choice, Not Fate: Shaping a Sustainable Future in the Space Age Paperback – December 14, 2009

4.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Jim Vedda is one of the few individuals I know who is equally comfortable and capable in both the policy world and the technical world of space issues. That makes him someone whose ideas should be read, as his insights consider and encompass both - which is a rarity. Space is a part of America's strategic future. Jim Vedda helps us recognize why, and how we might best utilize its potential. - Dr. Joan Johnson-Freese, chair, National Security Decision Making Department, U.S. Naval War College
 
In this important book, space policy specialist Jim Vedda argues for the necessity of formulating long-term goals for space exploration through a rigorous process and then pursuing them over a decade or more. He appropriately concludes that social and cultural perspectives, and the institutions that support them, are focused almost exclusively on short-term ends usually designed to resolve a crisis. In the space exploration world this is a powerful stricture for an endeavor that requires generations of effort. Vedda's analysis of this problem and his recommendations for resolution in Choice, Not Fate are most welcome. - Dr. Roger Launius, senior curator of space history, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution
 
Jim Vedda's analysis of space-related issues is thoroughly researched and thought-provoking. He clearly understands the mix of social, political, and fiscal realities that drive technology, and the need for immediate, long-term action. Vedda's insights are essential reading for anyone who knows, or wants to understand, the importance of space-related science, technology, and policy. His ability to explore and explain complex issues in a highly readable fashion further enhances the value of this work. - Dr. David C. Webb, space consultant, educator, and former member of President Ronald Reagan's National Commission on Space

About the Author

James A. Vedda is a senior policy analyst with a government contractor in the Washington, D.C. area, where he does research on civil, commercial, and national security space issues. Previously, he was an associate professor in the Department of Space Studies at the University of North Dakota. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Florida and a master's degree in Science, Technology, and Public Policy from George Washington University. He has published many space-related journal articles and book chapters, presented papers at a variety of professional conferences, and provided commentary for radio and television.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Xlibris Corporation (December 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1450013473
  • ISBN-13: 978-1450013475
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,368,152 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this excellent, thoughtful book, Dr. Vedda focuses on why substantial investment in space technologies (not space destinations) is vital to the nation's and planet's economic wellbeing, and possibly even survival. Space programs to date have focused on what he sees as short-term goals, like landing humans on the Moon, that can be characterized as "field trips" rather than long-term goals such as strengthening the economy, combating climate change, and otherwise improving the human condition through space technology.

The Earth is an open, not closed, system. For example, massive quantities of energy from the Sun sweep by us every second - the technology for capturing significant amounts of this energy in orbiting collectors and beaming it to Earth exists but requires focused investments in the needed engineering and demonstration of the concepts. However, a space project of this magnitude requires long-term planning and investment typically not supported by today's government and industry decision-makers.

Other options for the long-term future include moving manufacturing operations to space, mining minerals from extraterrestrial bodies (an answer to China having bought 98% of the Earth's rare-earth element sources?), and exploiting the microgravity and vacuum environments of space to make materials and medicines that cannot be produced on Earth.

Dr. Vedda's book provides an excellent history of space developments to date and clearly explains why rationales that justified the Apollo program (e.g., enhancing national prestige and creating secondary technological spinoffs) no longer apply in the present. He argues that there are compelling reasons to strengthen societal incentives for long-term thinking, planning, and economic commitments so we can start thinking seriously about where we want to be by mid-century. This book is recommended to anyone who is concerned about our nation's and planet's future.
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Format: Paperback
If I were still teaching at University, I'd require this book for every freshman student, regardless of their majors. It is the most succinct, readable, and thorough assessment of the importance of the space program that I have ever seen, and I've seen plenty of them. Want to know why the space program even matters? Read this book. Want to know how the space program can help us deal with global issues? Read this book. Want to understand what real benefits we get from the space program? Read this book.

In short - read this book.

The book is beautifully written, easily understood by anyone with a working knowledge of the English language. It manages to be both an enlightening primer and an advanced technological assessment - a rare feat, indeed.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was published in 2009, before the cancellation of Bush's Vision for Space Exploration and the emergence of SpaceX and other private launch companies, and it needs a little updating (as any book on this subject does as time passes), but this book is a must read for space advocates nonetheless. It gives the how and why of space, and why going out there isn't so simple as just having an ambitious space program.
James A. Vedda (or Jim, as we all knew him) was an associate professor of Space Studies at the University of North Dakota, located in Grand Forks. I obtained an M.S. (Master of Science) degree in that program, and I had Jim Vedda as a teacher in three courses. This was before he earned his Ph.D., and back then, he did his homework before teaching a class, as he equally did in writing this book. It is well researched and thought out, and in this review, I will add my views as well.
First and foremost, this book is not about space technology, nor is it a timeline of our progress in space, and where we will be at a certain times. It is not a prediction of the future.
No, this book covers space, past and present, in a way of which the events of the time guided it, and those who made the decisions to do what they did, from Apollo to the International Space Station (ISS). In making these decisions, being the government, the government itself is discussed in a way of how they think when making a decision to fund NASA for a certain projects, why they would approve or disapprove of it. Mostly, what is discussed is how the government itself works. For example, in discussing the government bureaucracy (and I myself have worked in it, at the Census Bureau), one would think that it is all bad, wastes money, and gets nothing done.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The subtitle "Shaping a Sustainable Future in the Space Age" lead me to believe that this book would be more along the lines of a guide to reframing environmentalist desires to put Space work in a positive light ala Cockell's "Space on Earth". Actually, you may find the book a better companion to Hickman's "Reopening The Space Frontier".

This is not to say that Hickman and Vedda are just saying the same things or that the final recommendations are the same, but that both of them are not happy-trails rants from geeks who think getting humans working profitably in Space is as simple as better marketing, more letters to congress or getting the right person in the Oval Office.

Both 'Choice...' and 'Reopening...' give historical perspective on the workings and dysfunctions of our government not only in Space but in any major-money task and are quick to point out with pretty good effect the problems Big Picture endeavors truly face.

Dr. Vedda takes a bit more time in his presentation than Mr. Hickman and it seems fitting to me that his major point is that "Things Take Time". It's not a point that many of us want to hear, but since we've not gone very far in the past decades it seems to hold up. Those of us who have personal recollection of the "glory days" close to Apollo are now grey and thinking that one big push is really all it takes (and Hickman believes that that is probably the way things will end up happening... but only as a reaction to an outside force), but this book urges understanding of the true need being a push for our leaders to get around to Long Term Thinking in general rather than the Space Stunting which just gets us another two steps forward followed by decades or longer stuck one step back.
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