This is a critical time for the space program, and for all of us.
Even the significant steps that we have taken since the dawn of the space age in 1957, including orbital flight, the Moon landings, and orbiting space stations, will in retrospect seem to be tiny steps compared to what lies ahead. Migrating into space will challenge us beyond anything we have previously accomplished, and we are destined to face adventures that are both fantastically breathtaking and supremely dangerous.
"Beyond Earth" is for everyone interested in humankind's next great adventure - the human settlement of the Solar System. A unique collection of world-class scholars, scientists, engineers, managers, astronauts, artists, authors, and professors examine the key questions of our unique circumstance at the dawn of a new era in space exploration and development: Why does space matter to us? What can we use it for? How can we get there efficiently? What will ordinary life be like in space? What will our homes be like on the Moon? On Mars? In orbit? Will we play? Will we love?
The book does not stop with questions. It goes beyond the dramatic, the superficial, and the overly technical to the prescriptive, literally laying the brick and mortar for our future space faring civilisation. Contributing authors come from both hard and soft sciences; include education and the arts; and ask children, who will be the future space dwellers, for their visions. They document needed research.
There are three underlying assumptions driving this book: First, that the human urge for flight, exploration and survival, plus its curiosity about the universe, are deeply embedded in our genes and in our minds; Second, that even if these urges were ignored, the continual improvement of the quality of life for the human race on earth, and perhaps even its ultimate survival, hinge on the successes of human exploration and habitation of space; and, Third that our generation can use the opportunity presented by outwards expansion to design a rewarding and exciting future of collaboration to capitalise on the lessons learned from human history on Earth.