CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 20 . . . . January 27, 2012
A hands-on science book in the “Machines of the Future” series, Space Tourism explores the growing interest in space travel by ordinary citizens, albeit those with extraordinary bank accounts. Following a brief history of space programs from the 1950s to the present, the book focuses primarily on the technological advances which have resulted in the design and creation of a variety of vehicles capable of taking tourists and researchers into the stratosphere or into suborbital space. Other topics include the scientific principle behind launching a rocket and keeping it in orbit, zero gravity versus microgravity, and the challenges of living in space. It is conceivable that, by the end of 2012, the public will be able to enjoy a four-week stay at a space hotel for the princely sum of $15 million. In addition to the information found in the book’s 19 chapters, there are text boxes with space tour trivia, interviews with experts, such as astronauts, a space tourist and a space architect, and clear instructions, suitably illustrated, for five experiments using common household objects. Some examples of projects include a gravity simulator, a balloon test engine and a working model of a dual-stage space plane.
Even though the scientific concepts can be rather complicated, the author explains them in a manner that is easy to comprehend. When writing about the preparations for the liftoff of NASA’s space shuttle, which begin days before the actual event, the author describes each step in such a way that, by the time he counts down from T-minus one minute, readers will almost feel as if they are present at the launch site. His use of the extra text boxes with their trivia and first-person accounts adds a new dimension to the text (and readers will be duly impressed that most of the interviewees are female). With the exception of the photographs of the interviewees, the illustrations consist of colour diagrams and drawings that lend a futuristic quality to the book and complement the text. A table of contents, a glossary and an index are provided.
Well-researched, fascinating and current, Space Tourism will definitely appeal to space buffs and to those readers whose sense of adventure might eventually lead them to becoming among the first space tourists.
Gail Hamilton is a former teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.