________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 20 . . . . January 27, 2012


Space Tourism. (Machines of the Future).

Peter McMahon. Illustrated by Andy Mora.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2011.
40 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
ISBN 978-1-55453-368-8.

Subject Headings:
Space vehicles-Juvenile literature.
Space tourism-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-11.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

**** /4



What’s a hotel without an elevator? Right now, NASA and other space organizations are working with private companies to figure out how you might just ride a giant elevator into space. Such a highway to space would be made of advanced materials such as carbon nanotubes or even laser light. The journey would take longer than a rocket flight, but a space elevator would cut the cost of getting things into Earth orbit to a tiny fraction of the bill today.

Sound far-fetched? A NASA shuttle mission tested a cable of a few dozen meters in orbit on a mission in the 1980s. The experiment successfully showed that tethers in space can be deployed and kept tight for objects to travel along them. A later experiment successfully unraveled a 20 km (12 mi.) long test cable.

Such transportation systems would also mean you could get to your room in a space hotel more like you would in an Earthly retreat: Just hit the button for the 450 000th floor.

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.

Highly Recommended.

Gail Hamilton is a former teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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