Friday, November 16, 2018
Book Review: 'Mission to Mars' by Buzz Aldrin
"And see the highest stars, how lofty they are!" -- Job 22:12 (NKJV)
If you have even the slightest interest in space, Buzz Aldrin is familiar to you. As the second man to set foot on the moon and an engineer, he brings a unique perspective to the question of what the United States and the world should be doing in space. I was greatly blessed to read this volume that nicely summarizes lessons from past exploration (don't waste money on single-use equipment and have plans to continue what you start), summarizes current activities and plans of the various nations (moon, mars, and asteroids) and private companies (space tourism and supplying government missions), and shares his own vision (as well as that of others) about what should follow and when for space exploration (where, what, and how), development (making development more self-sustaining), and permanent residency (through terraforming). I can rarely remember gaining so much interesting information as pleasantly and as compactly.
While Dr. Aldrin has his own views, he generously shares others and points out some of the weaknesses in his own thoughts. I liked the way that he attempts to use the best of what everyone is doing to assemble a more effective and valuable space program for humankind. Although the title obviously focuses on Mars, you'll find useful thoughts about space stations, space shuttles to and from the moon, moon mining, a second "space race" to the moon, visiting asteroids, defending Earth against impacts with asteroids and comets, and developing permanent colonies on Mars and elsewhere.
I struggle a bit to find any weaknesses in the book. The only ones I can think of are the lack of greater explanation of how various constraints limit current space options compared to one another (such as costs of refueling versus providing oxygen versus providing energy, etc.). In a number of places, I was struck that atomic energy sources might present options ... but such were not discussed even in terms of the security dangers. Without such information, it's hard to assess the true pros and cons of the various approaches that might be taken. Of course, trial and error will soon prove some options superior to others.
I applaud Dr. Aldrin and co-author Leonard David for putting together a helpful and thought-provoking book.
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