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Spacefaring: The Human Dimension Paperback – October 7, 2002
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The title of this book really ought to be Spacefarers, because unlike many space travel authors, Harrison, a professor of psychology, focuses primarily on the people doing the traveling. On the technological side, he explores astronaut selection and training, medical and environmental hazards, and issues of life support and habitation. He pays equal attention to "soft" science aspects of human space travel, such as the stresses that arise from working and surviving in space, group dynamics among astronauts, and even off-duty time (and it is here that Harrison boldly goes where few space authors have gone before--into the realm of sex in space).
Harrison notes that while NASA has gathered heaps of physiological data about astronauts, the agency makes little effort to collect psychological and behavioral information. In fact, such research has been discouraged. This may come from the idea that in the past, NASA astronauts were presented as "flawless individuals" and that any hints of emotional instability could possibly decrease funding. Conversely, the Russian space program, with its emphasis on long-duration flights, has always studied human behavior in space. Which leads us to one of the book's best didjaknows: Did you know that cosmonauts only played chess against groundside opponents, to avoid in-group competition and friction?
In the final chapters, Harrison does address the nuts and bolts of spacefaring, surveying prospects for lunar and Martian colonies, and even interstellar travel. The chapter on space tourism is quite comprehensive and contains a startling insight: tourism could create a push into space stronger than science or exploration. Says Harrison:
"Not only would making space accessible to a broad segment of the population give people exciting and new experiences, it would encourage many different kinds of human activities in space. Thus, the space tourism industry could develop both the technology and the popular support required to accelerate human progress in getting off our planet."
All told, Spacefaring is a broad and readable review of the hazards and issues that will confront future space travelers, and it creates a vivid picture of what daily life may be like for those lucky adventurers. --J. B. Peck --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the author of Living Aloft: Human Requirements for Extended Spaceflight (1985) and After Contact: The Human Response to Extraterrestrial Life (1997) comes this look at what human beings need to be able to live in space. With the U.S. poised to begin launching people into space on longer, more complicated voyages than ever before, Harrison argues that more emphasis needs to be placed on what he calls the "human dimension" of space travel (not just survival techniques but dealing, for example, with issues of loneliness and isolation). In addition to psychological issues, Harrison addresses some vital practical matters such as how space voyagers will communicate with those on Earth and how "multigeneration" missions, in which people are born, live, and die on board a space vessel, will require us to rethink many of our notions of what constitutes a society. This is an intelligent, challenging book, perhaps too technical for some general readers but ideal for those with an interest in space travel and a desire to explore the cutting edge. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
But the crux of the book is the needs of humans in space and the challeneges they face. It solidly addresses the main points well and seems well researched on that dimension.
If anything, the book is beginning to show its age and is in need of an updated edition. Much of the information is speculative about the ISS and future endeavors that are going on right now. Lessons learned from the ISS, the end of the shuttle program and future plans for space are a reality.
Sadly, Dr Harrison passed away last year (2015), so the publisher would have to find a coauthor to update the text.
Harrison did some excellent work with this work.
It is "the book" I recommend to anyone interested in reading about spaceflight.
Spacefaring: the Human Dimension by Albert Harrison helps fill a niche that I've found largely unfilled in most of the space exploration books I've read - how to keep humans alive, and stop them from killing each other during long space trips. And by focusing only on this aspect of space travel, Harrison gives the subject matter the time and respect it deserves. Each element is covered in tremendous detail, including the basics of food, air, water, heat, etc. but also the more psycological elements of coping with stress, group dynamics, training, and dealing with mistakes and disasters. Harrison throws in a plenty of anecdotes to give real world examples to the topics covered.
I'd recommend this book to anyone who finds this aspect of space exploration fascinating. I'd especially recommend it to folks like the Mars Society, as many of the issues have been largely ignored by NASA so far. And I'd force scriptwriters and directors to read this book before they make another Mission to Mars. Great book!
Harrison focuses on NASA's hostility to human-factors research, particularly in contrast to the Russians' long history of interest in crew selection and the effects of long-duration spaceflight. Given NASA's recent objections to the flight of Dennis Tito, this context is extremely timely.
His concluding chapter, on the drive to explore space, why we came so far so quickly, then walked away from human exploration, is well-reasoned, insightful and deeply passionate.