Engineering & Transportation
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Robots in Space: Technology, Evolution, and Interplanetary Travel (New Series in NASA History) Hardcover – January 7, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0801887086 ISBN-10: 0801887089 Edition: 1st

8 New from $51.67 29 Used from $2.79 1 Collectible from $16.00
Amazon Price New from Used from
eTextbook
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$51.67 $2.79

Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student


NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Shop the new tech.book(store)
New! Introducing the tech.book(store), a hub for Software Developers and Architects, Networking Administrators, TPMs, and other technology professionals to find highly-rated and highly-relevant career resources. Shop books on programming and big data, or read this week's blog posts by authors and thought-leaders in the tech industry. > Shop now

Product Details

  • Series: New Series in NASA History
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; 1 edition (January 7, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801887089
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801887086
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,191,072 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Entertaining reading.

(Commercial Dispatch)

Excellent, eye-opening, horizon-broadening reading! Highly recommended.

(Choice)

Noted space historians... breathe new life into the subject by examining its history as well as its possible future. They call for a new vision of human spaceflight—a 'transhuman' program that takes into account current trends in robotics, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering and other fields that are rapidly changing the nature of both humans and machines.

(Air and Space Magazine)

This short volume manages to capture the history of U.S. space flight, to explain the underpinnings of U.S. space policy and to plot out the possibilities for our future in space in a style that most anyone can enjoy.

(Andrew McMichael Park City Daily News)

A timely and thought-provoking read, no matter what side of the humans vs. robots debate one is on. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in where our species is ultimately headed in space.

(Liftoff)

Should interest any intelligent reader with an interest in the history and future of space exploration, whatever technology is applied. Its mix of historical background and social context, entirely due to the authors' long experience, takes the reader well beyond the usual issues of technical challenge and budget limitations, while numerous selected quotations accentuate the human element.

(Mark Williamson Space Times)

An examination of the history of the various arguments for sending humans and machines into space, and their relative merits. It is an authoritative, detailed look at how these arguments evolved and what the future of humans and robots in space might hold.

(Jeff Foust Space Review)

A remarkably well-written and lucid book... about the ongoing debate within the American civil space agency between proponents of human spaceflight and those who advocate robotic or 'unmanned' spaceflight.

(Capt Bryce G. Poole, USAF Air and Space Power Journal)

From the Back Cover

Outstanding Academic Title, Choice Magazine

Roger D. Launius and Howard E. McCurdy expound upon the possibilities and improbabilities involved in trekking across the Milky Way and beyond. They survey the literature, both fictional and academic studies; outline the progress of space programs in the United States and other nations; and assess the current state of affairs. Their conclusion would be startling only to those who haven’t spent time with Asimov, Heinlein, and Clarke: to traverse the cosmos, humans must embrace and entwine themselves with advanced robotic technologies.

"Noted space historians... breathe new life into the subject by examining its history as well as its possible future. They call for a new vision of human spaceflight—a 'transhuman' program that takes into account current trends in robotics, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering and other fields that are rapidly changing the nature of both humans and machines."— Air and Space Magazine

"A timely and thought-provoking read, no matter what side of the humans vs. robots debate one is on. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in where our species is ultimately headed in space." —Liftoff

"An examination of the history of the various arguments for sending humans and machines into space, and their relative merits. It is an authoritative, detailed look at how these arguments evolved and what the future of humans and robots in space might hold."— Space Review


More About the Author

Roger D. Launius is a senior curator in the Division of Space History at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Between 1990 and 2002 he served as chief historian of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. A graduate of Graceland College in Lamoni, Iowa, he received his Ph.D. from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, in 1982 and worked as a civilian historian with the United States Air Force until 1990.

He has written or edited more than twenty books on aerospace history, among others including "Smithsonian Atlas of Space Exploration" (HarperCollins, 2009); "Robots in Space: Technology, Evolution, and Interplanetary Travel" (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008); "Space Stations: Base Camps to the Stars" (Smithsonian Books, 2003; 2nd ed. 2009), which received the AIAA's history manuscript prize; "Flight: A Celebration of 100 Years in Art and Literature" (Welcome Books, 2003); "Reconsidering a Century of Flight" (University of North Carolina Press, 2003); "To Reach the High Frontier: A History of U.S. Launch Vehicles" (University Press of Kentucky, 2002); "Imagining Space: Achievements, Possibilities, Projections, 1950-2050" (Chronicle Books, 2001); "Innovation and the Development of Flight" (Texas A&M University Press, 1999); "NASA & the Exploration of Space" (Stewart, Tabori, & Chang, 1998); "Frontiers of Space Exploration" (Greenwood Press, 1998, rev. ed. 2004); "Spaceflight and the Myth of Presidential Leadership" (University of Illinois Press, 1997); and "NASA: A History of the U.S. Civil Space Program" (Krieger Publishing Co., 1994, rev. ed. 2001).

He is also involved in other historical studies. His book, "Joseph Smith III: Pragmatic Prophet" (University of Illinois Press, 1988), won the prestigious Evans Award for biography. He has also published "Differing Visions: Dissenters in Mormon History" (University of Illinois Press, 1994), "Cultures in Conflict: A Documentary History of the Mormon War in Illinois" (Utah State University Press, 1995), "Kingdom on the Mississippi Revisited: Nauvoo in Mormon History" (University of Illinois Press, 1996), and several others. "Alexander William Doniphan: Portrait of a Missouri Moderate" (University of Missouri Press, 1997), discusses the role of the vital center in American politics during the Mexican-American War and sectional conflict.

More recently he has been studying the relationship of baseball to American culture and has published, "Charlie Finley: The Outrageous Story of Baseball's Super Showman" (Walker and Co., 2010), and "Seasons in the Sun: The Story of Big League Baseball in Missouri" (University of Missouri Press, 2002).

He served as a consultant to the Columbia Accident Investigation Board in 2003 and presented the prestigious Harmon Memorial Lecture in Military History at the United States Air Force Academy in 2006. In addition, he is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the International Academy of Astronautics, and the American Astronautical Society, and Associate Fellow of the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics. He is frequently consulted by the electronic and print media for his views on space issues, and has been a guest commentator on National Public Radio and all the major television networks.

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By R. Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on April 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
For as long as there have been humans, there has been a push outward to explore and inhabit new lands. It seems to be something we are programmed to do. When new worlds (or a New World) was discovered, settlers moved in to make them their own. The Earth is pretty well settled, and we have nowhere else to move, unless we start going to other planets entirely. We have just barely started exploring these distant unearthly worlds, but our ventures have already caused a big debate in the philosophy of exploration: should it be by humans or by robots? _In Robots in Space: Technology, Evolution, and Interplanetary Travel_ (The Johns Hopkins University Press), a couple of experts on the history of space exploration and space policies, Roger D. Launius and Howard E. McCurdy, summarize the debate and give surprising answers and speculation into what the future may hold. Their predictions and their solutions require imagination to understand, at the level of science fiction, and indeed their book frequently draws upon science fiction novels and movies for depictions of imaginary answers to future problems. It makes for entertaining reading, especially for someone like me who had not previously realized how much serious thought has gone into the debate about robots, space exploration, and the future of humans in space.

At the dawn of the space age, besides working on America's rocket program, Wernher von Braun wrote popular articles that emphasized humans in space as a continuation of America's tradition of exploration and settlement. The authors point out that such utopian visions have often been part of terrestrial exploration, and that they continue to fire the imaginations of those who want to see humans in space. Von Braun's vision stalled.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mark5576 on February 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The book's title and its jacket -- image of "Spirit" Mars Rover, -- imply that it is a history and/or forecast of robotic space exploration. Actually it is more than anything else a history of "robots vs. humans debate" -- the longstanding argument among space-related comminuty in United States over the best way to explore space.

In first two thirds of the book Launius and McCurdy trace last 50 years of spaceflight through the lens of this debate, and of cultural assumptions of both sides. They do not exactly take sides, but claim that as 21st Century rolled around both technological and social trends are favoring the "robotic exploration" camp -- even without actively advocating it. The last third is given to the notions of transhumanism -- biological and mechanical augmentation of human body and mind, and how it applies to space travel. Ultimately the authors reveal (actually, they hint on it early on) their own answer to "robots or humans?" question: and the answer is "cyborgs". Baseline humans are too fragile to function in space, and machines alone are too uninspiring. Ultimately, Launius and McCurdy believe, space belongs to merger of both.

The book is very well researched, and presentation is convincing, although repetitive in places. "Tortoise and hare" analogy (applied to robotic and manned US space programs, respectively) grew a bit annoying with repetition, and Chapter 6 which speculates on interstellar flight seemed to me shoehorned in for no good reason. Hence 4 stars.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Albert A. Harrison on February 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This well researched and nicely written book proposes a useful alternative to the waning von Braun paradigm of using low earth orbit, lunar and Mars expeditions as stepping stones to the stars. Economic considerations, the frailty of human beings, and competing interests work against developing Utopian societies in space. Although the von Braum paradigm, bolstered by Krafft-Ehricke's extraterrestrial imperative and reinforced by the lure of a new frontier still appeals to many people (including this writer) as Launius and McCurdy point out the Moon landings represent the high water mark of humans in space, rather than a stepping stone to successively more adventurous missions. Can we find a more compelling paradigm for modern day audiences? The authors argue yes. Robots in Space is not a mere rehash of the strengths and weaknesses of piloted and robotic missions, rather it proposes a broad strategy combining astronomy,physical and life sciences, piloted and robot missions that will benefit space exploration,the search for extraterrestrial life, and planetary defense. They propose, in other words, a strategy that will appeal to the whole field of astrobiology. Roger Launius and Howard McCurdy are superb scholars who draw on their own expertise and the storehouse of history to develop a synergistic, interdisciplinary program for discovery and I am glad to have a copy.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
8 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Helge Andreas Qvam on June 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
My disappointment with this book is caused by the following:

1) Both authors are NASA insiders and offer no thoughts whatsoever on the ongoings outside of NASA. The space efforts of both other countries and the private sector is ignored. This is a most grave blunder in the light of the progress made in the last decade in the private sector as well as the success of European space probes.

2) The focus of the book is entirely on NASA and what NASA might do in the future.

3) The book starts with the "False Dichotomy" between robotics against human space travel but does not present the reader with any good reason why these strategies are compatible.

4) The book fails miserably to describe the events between what is known to informed reader at present and up until the event of "posthuman space flight". Basically they go from a tedious recollection of known facts to the most free-flight fantasy.

5) In the closing chapters the authors try to come up with a "New Space Paradigm" which has nothing new whatsoever about it.

Conclusion: "Robots in Space" is an irrelevant piece of drivel. Personally I am surprised this book made it to publishing.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Customer Images

Search