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Books on spaceflight


Tyko
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looking for non-fiction or "realistic" fiction books on spaceflight. Here's a few I've tackled recently

The Martian, by Weir - "mostly realistic", excellent story

This New Ocean: the story of the first space age, by Burrows - truly dense book which starts with Daedalus and Da Vinci and goes forward from there. I'm reading about the beginnings of the Apollo program and I'm only 43% of my way through the book. Lot's of great information here.

Case for Mars, by Zubrin - highly detailed breakdown of what it would take to run a successful Mars mission. The last few chapters are a bit soft on science, but the rest of the book is well-researched and well presented.

 

What others have people been reading?

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I found the first of the Mars trilogy (Red Mars) by Kim Stanley Robinson to be an interesting take on Mars colonisation (and mostly founded in some sort of science). It also touches on some of the more political (who is actually in charge?) and ethical issues (in the books they leave behind an overpopulated earth that is quickly fracturing into war). The writing is not the best, but once you get past that it was really engaging.

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1 hour ago, Tyko said:

Case for Mars, by Zubrin - highly detailed breakdown of what it would take to run a successful Mars mission.


Case for Mars is as much speculative fiction as it is science fact - a great deal of what Zubrin presents a given, isn't.  He routinely treats laboratory curiosities and benchtop proofs of concept as mature technologies ready to integrate into flight hardware and ship off to the launch facility.

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You might try "Entering Space" by Robert Zubrin.   It's a less focused, much broader, and less near-term work then "The Case for Mars", but has a similar style.   Essentially it explores various concepts for exploring and settling the cosmos from an engineering perspective.   Everything from solar power satellites, and rocket-planes to terraforming around M class stars, and dyson spheres.   It's a great work with lots of interesting analysis, some of it disappointing, much of it unexpected, but always optimistic and enlightening.   I've read it myself and I highly recommend it. :cool:

Good idea for a thread by the way. :)

Edited by Finox
I unexpectedly misspelled unexpected XD
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2 hours ago, Steel said:

I found the first of the Mars trilogy (Red Mars) by Kim Stanley Robinson to be an interesting take on Mars colonisation (and mostly founded in some sort of science). It also touches on some of the more political (who is actually in charge?) and ethical issues (in the books they leave behind an overpopulated earth that is quickly fracturing into war). The writing is not the best, but once you get past that it was really engaging.

I'll just say here that I think Kim Stanley Robinson is a very skilled writer.

To understand this book, however, you have to realize that Robinson is only partly interested in describing the colonization of Mars. He's actually much more interested in considering the evolution of human society, and the Mars trilogy (plus expanded works) is really an exploration of how leaving Earth might trigger that evolution.

Similarly, his series on climate change (Forty Signs Of Rain, etc.) examines how the pressures of climate change might change human society, particularly to give science and scientists more of a voice in politics. (That's also a theme of the Mars books.)

Edited by mikegarrison
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Ignition by John D. Clark is a great book on rocket propellant, it's hard to get a copy though, I read mine via interlibrary loan.

How To Build Your Own Spaceship by Piers Bizony is a tongue-in-cheek overview of rocketry.

Modern Design For Engineering Of Liquid Propellent Rocket Engines is a formal and dry book on engineering rocket engines.

Flight by Chris Kraft is about the early days of mission control.

 

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Wizards, Aliens, and Starships is a really good one, it explores the science and math behind a lot of topics, like magic, space elevators, orbital colonies, terraforming, various advanced propulsion methods, FTL and time travel, Alien life, Megastructures, Humanities extinction (Or what could kill us), along with many other topics, It was written a few years ago, and is a really great read, with a ton of equations in it, and it explores the physics in detail as well. :)

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34 minutes ago, munlander1 said:

"Failure is not an option" by Gene Kranz. It's a great read. 

Seconding this. Also. . .

Roving Mars: Spirit, Opportunity, and the Exploration of the Red Planet -- Written by the principal investigator of the MER mission, Roving Mars follows the project from it's origins in an impromptu side meeting during an AGU conference, through design and budgetary obstacles and then finally onto the rigors of operating a pair of robots on the surface of a hostile planet. Dr. Squyres is an engaging writer, and I found the book to be a genuine page turner.

Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys by Michael Collins -- Mike Collins is a good writer, and a good storyteller. Carrying the Fire is detailed, well paced and funny. While Apollo 11 is certainly covered, there's also quite a bit about the Gemini X mission. If I had to pick one book out of this list of four to hold up above the others, this would be it. 

The Last Man on the Moon -- Eugene Cernan is not the writer that Michael Collins is, but he makes up for it by being quite a character. He is occasionally prone to embellishment, but the book will definitely give you a good sense of what space flight feels like, even if it's not always 100% accurate. Here we are treated to details of three missions-- Gemini IX, Apollo 10 and Apollo 17. Eugene's enthusiasm is contagious, and he's not at all afraid to tell you about the various blunders he made on the way to the Moon. Sometimes you'll find yourself cheering him on, and sometimes you'll find yourself shaking your head. But you will never be bored.

Spaceman: An Astronaut's Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe -- A memoir for the shuttle era, Mike Massimino flew EVA on STS-109 and STS-125, both of which were servicing missions for the Hubble Space Telescope. Like Mike Collins, Massimino is the rare astronaut who also knows how to write well, and his descriptions of spacewalking are among the best I've seen. The author does not pass judgement on the shuttle one way or the other, but he does make the point that the shuttle, if nothing else, allowed a relatively large number of people to fly in space. We lament the passing of each moonwalker, but it's not going to be too much longer before the number of living people who've seen the Earth from orbit starts to drop.  

 

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18 hours ago, Mad Rocket Scientist said:

Ignition by John D. Clark is a great book on rocket propellant, it's hard to get a copy though, I read mine via interlibrary loan.

http://www.sciencemadness.org/library/books/ignition.pdf

(Its a legit download, link working as of today)

A must-read, and exceptionally good as a "KSP primer".

***

A bit on the fictiony end but "realisticish", both excellent:

Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson

Seveneaves by Neal Stevenson

Edited by p1t1o
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r/space has a copy-paste list, courtesy or u/Senno_Ecto_Gammat:

Spoiler

How to Read the Solar System: A Guide to the Stars and Planets by Christ North and Paul Abel.

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson.

A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather than Nothing by Lawrence Krauss.

Cosmos by Carl Sagan.

Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space by Carl Sagan.

Foundations of Astrophysics by Barbara Ryden and Bradley Peterson.

Final Countdown: NASA and the End of the Space Shuttle Program by Pat Duggins.

An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything by Chris Hadfield.

You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes: Photographs from the International Space Station by Chris Hadfield.

Space Shuttle: The History of Developing the Space Transportation System by Dennis Jenkins.

Wings in Orbit: Scientific and Engineering Legacies of the Space Shuttle, 1971-2010 by Chapline, Hale, Lane, and Lula.

No Downlink: A Dramatic Narrative About the Challenger Accident and Our Time by Claus Jensen.

Voices from the Moon: Apollo Astronauts Describe Their Lunar Experiences by Andrew Chaikin.

A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts by Andrew Chaikin.

Breaking the Chains of Gravity: The Story of Spaceflight before NASA by Amy Teitel.

Moon Lander: How We Developed the Apollo Lunar Module by Thomas Kelly.

The Scientific Exploration of Venus by Fredric Taylor.

The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe.

Into the Black: The Extraordinary Untold Story of the First Flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia and the Astronauts Who Flew Her by Rowland White and Richard Truly.

An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics by Bradley Carroll and Dale Ostlie.

Rockets, Missiles, and Men in Space by Willy Ley.

Ignition!: An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants by John Clark.

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking.

Russia in Space by Anatoly Zak.

Rain Of Iron And Ice: The Very Real Threat Of Comet And Asteroid Bombardment by John Lewis.

Mining the Sky: Untold Riches From The Asteroids, Comets, And Planets by John Lewis.

Asteroid Mining: Wealth for the New Space Economy by John Lewis.

Coming of Age in the Milky Way by Timothy Ferris.

The Whole Shebang: A State of the Universe Report by Timothy Ferris.

Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandries by Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution by Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon by Craig Nelson.

The Martian by Andy Weir.

Packing for Mars:The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach.

The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution by Frank White.

Gravitation by Misner, Thorne, and Wheeler.

The Science of Interstellar by Kip Thorne.

Entering Space: An Astronaut’s Odyssey by Joseph Allen.

International Reference Guide to Space Launch Systems by Hopkins, Hopkins, and Isakowitz.

The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality by Brian Greene.

How the Universe Got Its Spots: Diary of a Finite Time in a Finite Space by Janna Levin.

This New Ocean: The Story of the First Space Age by William Burrows.

The Last Man on the Moon by Eugene Cernan.

Failure is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond by Eugene Kranz.

Apollo 13 by Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger.

 

Edited by DDE
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  • 1 month later...
On 28.2.2017 at 7:35 PM, Steel said:

I found the first of the Mars trilogy (Red Mars) by Kim Stanley Robinson to be an interesting take on Mars colonisation (and mostly founded in some sort of science). It also touches on some of the more political (who is actually in charge?) and ethical issues (in the books they leave behind an overpopulated earth that is quickly fracturing into war). The writing is not the best, but once you get past that it was really engaging.

I disagree on the part of how the writing is not the best. I just finished the trilogy (Red Mars, Green Mars and Blue Mars) and I found them to be fantastic. Highly recommended to all space nuts, some of the best books I ever read. Definitely the best on terraforming etc.

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A realy good Space Opera writer is in my opinion Lois McMaster Bujold.

She has many books in and around space, but the main thema is more social and political Evolution of the mankind. Colonisation,  Ethics and evolution of man through biology or cybersation. Realy great time i has with her Vorkosigan Saga.

Try it out, but its more SpaceOpera not so much SciFi.

Funny Kabooms 

Urses 

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On ‎2‎/‎28‎/‎2017 at 0:26 PM, Tyko said:

43%

Hey, you typed my third favorite number!

On a serious note, I found "The Martian Race" by Gregory Benford sort of interesting. It does its best to be mostly realistic. It is about two separate mars missions which are competing to win a 30 billion dollar prize.

It also offers a realistic (or at least I think so) approach to finding life on Mars.

 

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Another vote for Chaikin here.

Asiya Siddiqi's The Soviet Space Race with Apollo is a rather dry but very interesting look at the Soviet space program.

Starman - a Yuri Gagarin biography is worth reading too, as is Deborah Cadbury's Space Race: The Epic Battle Between America and the Soviet Union for Dominion of Space, at least it is once you get past the over-the-top subtitle.

Rowland White's Into the Black is an interesting look at the development of the Shuttle, its first test flight and the beginning of  post-Apollo era at NASA. Jeb has got nothing on John Young in the badS stakes, that's for sure.

Finally, Packing for Mars by Mary Roach (aka everything you wanted to know about zero-G toilets but were afraid to ask), is probably not for the overly sensitive but does give a very frank (and often amusing if somewhat scatological) look at the finer details of living in space.

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I'm still reading This New Ocean by Burrows...it's really amazing as a review of human spaceflight starting at the earliest ideas of how the universe worked - Copernicus and such - and working up to modern times. 

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+1 on Rendevous with Rama, easily better than Space Odyssey. The final line (no spoilers!) was an AMAZING ending.

 

Das Marsprojekt By Wehrner von Braun is a great read for a non-fiction explanation of spaceflight, lots of equations watch out! I was motivated to recreate it myself in KSP.

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Riding Rockets by Mike Mullane is a well written, informative and often hilariously funny description of that it was really like to be a NASA astronaut in the shuttle ere.

Decades ago I read Earthbound Astronauts, a fascinating book about the people who designed and built the Apollo spacecraft.  It has many interviews with the project managers who built the sub-systems.  It is still available st Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Earthbound-Astronauts-Apollo-Saturn-Beirne-Lay/dp/0132223074

 

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I recently bought "Russia in Space", Anatoly Zak in an effort to understand why america has, after achieving and claiming so much become so pathetic at rocketry.

Unfortunately the book was filled with political garbage instead of the technical information I was after, but some people who will undoubtedly be profiled by the CIA as "communist, shoot on sight" after buying it might find it interesting.

It has a lot of nice pictures too.

Edited by surge
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