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Colonies in Space Mass Market Paperback – February, 1980
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“Colonies in space? Yes, of course. Why not/ Let’s move. Let’s go there. Let’s do the job.
“Mr. Heppenheimer is keeper of the key, opener of the gate, tender of the gardens we will toss to space and inhabit with proper proportions of sorrow and joy. He offers you citizenship in [the] Universe.” – Ray Bradbury (Ray Bradbury)
“How warm and delightful to read about an expanding future for humanity! Mr. Heppenheimer takes us into the infinite world of the coming space age and tells us everything there is to know about it, as of this moment.” –Isaac Asimov (Isaac Asimov) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
T. A. Heppenheimer is a planetary scientist with a Ph. D. in aerospace engineering and is presently the Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Max Planck Institut fur Kernphysik in Heidelberg, Germany. Author of approximately 40 articles about planetary science, which have been published in such periodicals as Science, Icarus, Astronautics and Aeronautics, and the Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, his skill in putting difficult scientific concepts into interesting and understandable language is evident in Colonies in Space. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The scope and breadth of this vision of the future seemed so attainable. Giant farms in the sky, habitats housing millions, gigawatt power satellites and other industries were all well thought out. Even as to the employment of the shuttle in setting up some of this infrastructure. Reading this book again was nostalgic for me. Not for what I remember, but for the feeling of hope that we all had for the space program in those days.
For anyone who wants to get in touch with how we dared to hope and dream, this book is a must-read!
Dr. O'Neill was a brilliant physicist and will forever be remembered for his vital role in developing the first more-or-less practical space settlement designs, but he wasn't a top-notch popular science writer. By contrast, Colonies is an easy, informative and exciting read and it is little wonder that Heppenheimer, a good scientist in his own right, went on to a successful career as a popular science writer.
The heart of Colonies is an excellent description of the essentials of the space settlement ideas largely developed by O'Neill. Heppenheimer describes, in eminently comprehensible terms, the construction shack to house those working on the first settlement, the lunar mine to gather materials, the mass driver catapult to send lunar materials into orbit, the catcher to gather the materials and control them, the major settlement designs of the times, and the solar power satellites to pay for it all. He extends O'Neill's work with an extensive discussion of high-intensity agriculture and discovers a better location for the first settlements, a high Earth orbit rather than L5. There are also unique details such as the low-g swimming pool.
Chapter five, "The First of the Great Ships," is unintentionally poignant, through no fault of the author, for it explains why space settlement has failed to make much progress since Colonies was written. In this chapter Heppenheimer traces the development of the not-yet-flown NASA space shuttle and describes how space settlement concepts were absolutely dependent on the promise of fifty flights a year and $500/lb to orbit - targets the space shuttle missed by a factor of ten or more. Reading this chapter makes it crystal clear why space settlement is stuck in the high-level design stage and emphasizes the criticality of the crucial first step towards space settlement: cheap and safe Earth to low-Earth-orbit transportation.
One might ask, if Colonies is the better book, why is The High Frontier so much better known? The simplest answer is that Colonies was a commercial endeavor that went out of print when sales dropped off (though you can still find copies easily on Amazon from used book stores). By contrast, The High Frontier has been thankfully republished by the Space Studies Institute for outreach and educational purposes, granting it much greater staying power.
I'll leave you with a portion of Ray Bradbury's introduction:
Colonies in space?
The question really shouldn't be raised... Yes, of course. Why not? Let's move. Let's go there. Let's do the job.
But scores of millions of doubting Thomases repeat the question. Mr. Heppenheimer answers it on many levels in this book. Up front, I must make do with some sort of literary/aesthetic defense....
Why? Because, wouldn't it be terrible to wake one morning and discover, without remedy, that we were a failed experiment in our meadow-section of the Universe? Wouldn't it be awful to know that we had been given a chance, a testing, by the Cosmos, and had not delivered - had, by a loss of will and a flimsy excuse at desire, not won the day, and would soon fade into the dust - wouldn't that be a killing truth to lie abed with nights?....
Mr. Heppenheimer is keeper of the key, opener of the gate, tender of the gardens we will toss to space and inhabit with proper proportions of sorrow and joy. He offers you citizenship in the Universe.
How can you refuse?
Dr. Heppenheimer provides a clear view and goal for which the entire nation can aspire, rather than waste oure efforts on Mars.
Unlike Mars, Colonization of space around L4 and L5 of the moon is an achievable goal, which could have been achieved in our life time had it not been for the short sightedness of the federal government back during the seventies. Had it not been for that, our children would be living among the stars today. Fact is, so much of the Fedral government is a waste of money that could have been spent here for something truly worth while.
Imagine if you will a world of rolling grass covered hills and green vallies, much like Seattle and and various other areas, endless land and clean aiar for which real families can grow and thrive without any restrictions on resources. This is the interior of a Space Island. This world, if we reaach for it, can be our's.
I would urge that this book be updated and brought back into print and be made required reading for all High School Science students so that they may learn to reach for the stars.
Another book worth reading on this subject is The HIGH FRONTIER by Dr. Gerard K. O'Neill.