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


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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: 9 x 6 x 0.5 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: #2,438,981 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

More 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. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Florida. His dissertation analyzed the evolution of post-Apollo space policy-making in the executive and legislative branches. He also has a master's degree in Science, Technology, and Public Policy from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. He has been a member of the American Astronautical Society since 1997, serving as its Vice President for Public Policy from July 2002 to November 2004, and as a member of its Board of Directors from November 2004 to November 2007.
Previously, Jim was an associate professor in the Department of Space Studies at the University of North Dakota, where he taught courses on civil, commercial, and military space policy to undergraduate and graduate students. He was one of the founding members of the department, helping to create the curriculum for the Master of Science in Space Studies degree. He was associate director of North Dakota's participation in the NASA Space Grant program, served a term as department chairman, and pioneered the department's use of multimedia teaching techniques.
Jim's published writing has appeared in book chapters and in journals such as Space Policy, Space News, Astropolitics, Space Times, Ad Astra, Space Business News, The Journal of Space Law, and Quest. He has presented conference papers for the International Astronautical Federation, the American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics, the Midwest Political Science Association, the NASA History Office, and the National Air & Space Museum, and commentary for the Public Members Association of the Foreign Service, CNN, and others.
Jim and his wife Lin live in Alexandria, VA, where both play in a community band. Jim plays saxophones, clarinet, and flute, and enjoys writing reviews of jazz CDs on Amazon.com.

Customer Reviews

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Plus a good bibliography broken apart by chapter.
R. Smith
If I were still teaching at University, I'd require this book for every freshman student, regardless of their majors.
Moira L. Mefein
The academic prose may not "speak to" everyone but it is well worth the effort.
J. Rawley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Nora on February 16, 2010
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Moira L. Mefein on January 14, 2010
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Arnaud Lécuyot on July 11, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For me, M. Vedda's book is somewhat the grown-up version of the famous Von Braun / Disney / Collier's series "Man will conquer space, soon" articles from the 1950s and 60s. I am myself a space cadet and I have on my desk a model of one of Von Braun's dream rockets from that age. But, growing up, I have gradually realised that space must, in the end, stand on its own for what it brings nations and societies at large.

While the ideas presented are not original (the author does not claim so) the suggestion that space policy ought to be straightforwardly redirected towards utilitarian goals is fairly daring if completely justified. The second part of the book is clearly aimed at justifying this. The first part is also very interesting as it provides an analysis of US Space policy, where does it come from, its history, and the internal political mechanisms that affect it.

It was not the stated goal of the author to do so, but of course one is left wanting the proposed overall policy to be articulated in detail. Perhaps that is the topic of the recent second book.

In any case, recommended reading for anybody interested in Space Policy, or even simply in Space.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Rawley on November 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For nearly forty years a vast omniumgatherum took seriously what it meant to be a good citizen of the space faring age. These "space fans" and professionals educated themselves and others (I was a free lance space journalist). As time passed and the better future of our shared vision mostly receded many of us fell away from the work. Each in his or her own way tried to make sense of events and cast blame. I blamed "the individual" (a general cultural decline), conservatives blamed politics and liberals blamed corporate greed. James Vedda chose the difficult path to answers and enlightenment: real study and cogent analysis. The result is this landmark work for the space community. Like the good captain, Jim steps onto the deck and in Choice Not Fate tells us where we are, how we got here, and how to get back on course.
The academic prose may not "speak to" everyone but it is well worth the effort. For the rest of us (those of us who prefer this direct report style), the book is an eloquent model of clear analysis, thinking, writing, direction, and instruction, leading to real understanding. I most highly recommend it. Thank you, Jim.
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