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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2002
Dr. Lewis without a doubt deserves to be one of the most influential leaders in space development. I found Mining the Sky by accident in a hometown book shop while in high school and bought it because I had a few dollars. Five years later, I'm 9 months away from becoming an Air Force space officer with an astronautics degree. This book is that impressive.
This book is the clearest and accessible book on the economic impacts space will provide the human race to date. Most of its ideas aren't fanciful and can be easily imagined as maturing in the next 20-30 years or sooner, given an effort. Maybe even sooner, as at least one private company was inspired by Dr. Lewis' writings.
Dr. Lewis' positive outlook is tempered by a realistic engineering and economic approach to space. Keep in mind this book is first and foremost about space industrialization, not exploration. A true space enthusaist should know that one cannot be without the other. Dr. Lewis could not have given a better general survey of whats out there.
A brief addendum concerning other reviewers' criticisms. This book could be made much more technical. However, this book was meant to appeal to a large, nontechnical audience. For more information, see Dr. Lewis' earlier book (and parent to Mining the Sky) Resources of Near Earth Space. It is the standard text for space materials prospects. Mining the Sky is a toned down version of RoNES meant to explain to a layman (me, when I first read Mining) the opportunities that await those courageous enough to reach out.
Thank you, Dr. Lewis. And everyone even remotely interested in space and mankinds future in it, READ THIS BOOK!
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2000
This is a fascinating integration of science, technology and business.
The author makes an excellent case for the necessity, feasibility and promise of free market space exploration and exploitation. His justification is the long-range goal of self-sufficient space flight, which he contrasts eloquently with the wasteful, short-term and politically-motivated excursions of the last 40 years.
A number of facts may surprise you: the amount of information garnered from extensive research into the subject; the amount of considerate planning scientists and businessmen have devoted to the prospect; and how soon profitable space-mining could begin. The author, one of the field's leading scientist-businessmen, is well-qualified to present the material.
I found the book's wealth of scientific data overwhelming at times. Readers more familiar with physics and chemistry will find it easier to read. Nonetheless, the scientific data is important to support the author's "conservative" (his word) projections of how much wealth we can create by "mining the sky."
There is some poor explicit philosophy in the concluding chapters. Be aware of it and disregard it-it does nothing to advance or discredit his primary thesis: that the sky-indeed, the universe-is ours for the taking.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 1999
This book is entertaining and mind-expanding. The opportunity for exploitation of near-Earth resources is apparent. Dr. Lewis supports his assertions with good science and broad foresight. This is a great job of presenting both the scientific and social benefits of using space resources.
The future is built upon visionary ideas, not always immediately appreciated. This book makes a convincing case for advancing beyond the confines of this planet and how such an exodus is not only practical, but may well be profitable.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 12, 2005
Rating: A+ (ideas); A- (writing). An entertaining and visionary look at
the future of humanity in a space-based economy.

The idea of moving mining to space dates back at least to Russian space
visionary Konstantin Tsiolkovski (1903). Robert Goddard's pioneering
rocketry experiments in the 1920's were paid for by the Guggenheim
foundation, with money from mining (Asarco). Goddard himself
envisioned the migration of industry and people to space (1918).

Mr. Lewis, Codirector of the Space Engineering Research Center at the
University of Arizona, brings these speculations up to date for the turn
of the 21st century.

The resources available in the asteroid belt are truly staggering. Lewis
estimates that there is enough iron there to cover the earth to a depth of
one-half mile(!). At present-day prices, this iron would be worth about
$7 billion for each person now alive. Add in nickel, platinum, copper,
gold, uranium and so on, and the total exceeds $100 billion per person.
Makes the "Limits to Growth" folks look pretty silly.

Of course, there are a *few* steps to be taken before these resources
become economic, not the least mustering the courage and imagination
to take them. Yogi Berra reminds us that "the trouble with predicting
the future is that it is very hard", but from an engineering standpoint,
there's no reason why everyone can't become healthy, wealthy and very
numerous. Just can't do it all *here*...

review copyright 1998 by Peter D. Tillman

Consulting Geologist, Tucson & Santa Fe (USA)
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 25, 2002
Finally, a book by someone who knows what he's talking about! John S. Lewis has impressive credentials in the area of space resources, and he gives them to the reader in a concise, objective manner. This book is a far cry from other space authors' uses of hyperbole, criticism, or wild assumptions. The book also stays within the general realm of the believable, not straying too far from facts to speculate about "what could be done with this." While such asides are mildly entertaining, it is my belief both that the reader can imagine her own wild developments from space technology and resources; and that the real future will prove even today's best thought-out plans to be hokey and narrow-minded. John S. Lewis shows a rare mix of expertise, prose, and restraint, and makes this a must-have for anyone interested in this area.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2001
I really enjoyed this book. It's a scientifically rigorous discussion of how to utilize the resources available in the solar system for industrial purposes. By moving our heavy industry beyond the Earth and its atmosphere, we could simultaneously increase the standard of living across the world while ending pollution.
I am a material engineer, so I particularly enjoyed how Lewis addressed the engineering issues -- for example, beneficiation of lunar regolith -- in this book. Most physicists who write books of this type just argue the possibilities, and leave out details of HOW to do things.
One complaint: Lewis doesn't use a single graph, table or illustration. (A few artist-concept paintings are in the middle.)
It's all dense prose, even though 'a picture is worth a thousand words.' A single schematic of a mill for processing lunar minerals could have replaced pages of text. Similarly, a small table listing different minerals or asteroid types and their properties could replace pages of text.
Good book, great content, presentation needs work: 4 stars.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 1998
Mr. Lewis, Professor of Planetery Science at the University of Arizona knows his stuff when it comes to outer space and its natural resources and how to economically get there and how to make a profit from them.
Readers will be amazed at the enormous wealth that lies within just a few short Astro-Units from Earth.
The comment from Space News is that the book is "mind stretching" and it certainly is. The book is a real page turner and the technical stuff is easy and fun to understand.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2003
This book covers a great deal of topics on the subject of exploring near outer space. I enjoyed the descriptions of what it would be like to walk on an asteroid, with all its gravitational variations. He also discusses some details of specific known asteroids.
He covers the chemistry and energy requirements for first steps of exploration.
However, I enjoyed Robert Zubrin's "Entering Space: Creating a Spacefaring Civilization." Zubrin covers the chemistry, energy and cost requirements also. But his book is organized, and written much better.
Lewis repeats whole passages in this book, and many sections can easily be skipped without missing any information. He attemps to lure the reader with science-fiction-like narrative. Except for one, I did not find it that interesting. There is great deal for free on line about each interesting asteroid that is more detailed than what is offered in this book.
I was disappointed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 1998
This is one of the greatest books I have read. You will be surprised at how many resources there are in space. If there is anyone who says that space is useless, and should solve problems on Earth first should get a reality check and read this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2007
This is a wonderful book. The author lays out, very plainly, how the vast resources of the solar system will enable a prosperous future for 10 quadrillion people within half a millenium, and at the same time save the Earth from the economic and ecological dangers it now faces.

Parts of the book are a bit dated now, including the "new afterword by the author" which was written in 1997 (only a year after the book was first published). I'd love to see a new edition that takes into account the developments (or lack thereof) of the last ten years. But the vast majority of the book still applies just fine. I highly recommend this book to anyone with any concern about humanity's future.
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