A list of ten books for the space enthusiast in your house

As I sit here supposedly completing a list of items I want for the holidays, I glanced around my book shelves and thought of the good selection of tomes I already have. I decided to start a layman’s list of space related books.

This list is for someone interested in space who wants to get more informed about the subject.
Two of the books in the list are technically works of fiction, but are more science that fiction.

The books appear in no particular order, just how I pulled them off the shelves.

Disclaimer: I don’t actually have Rick Tumlinson’s Return to the Moon yet, but thanks to the author, a copy is on its way. I plan to do reviews on all the books on the list, including the out of print ones and I am providing Amazon.com links to each book to help you locate them. I’m sure Borders, Barnes & Noble, et al can help you find most of the newer titles if you prefer.

1. The Lunar Base Handbook, Peter Eckart, McGraw-Hill
Okay right of the bat I have to admit, I lied. The reason this book is first because I simply whenever I have a question regarding lunar activities, resource utilization, or a myriad other subjects, this is the first book a grab, to find the answers. So of course this was the first book I grabbed while doing this list.

This is a seriously hefty book with each chapter dedicated to specific aspects of developing a lunar base. These areas range from lunar resource utilization to the legal issues such as property rights. In addition to all that, an international cast of experts have contributed to the project either by doing peer reviews of each chapter or writing an essay that appears at the start of the chapter which covers their field of expertise. These essays in and of themselves is a gold mine of thoughts and opinions, from some of the best minds in the business. With the mentoring of Wendell Mendell, this book was started to fill in the blanks and expand the edges of Mendell’s book, Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century, which is number 3 on this list.

This project was started in 1995 and published in 1999, sadly very little of the subjects addressed are outdated, since not much in the way of progress has made the data obsolete.

2. The Once and Future Moon, Paul D. Spudis, Smithsonian Institution Press
So, having grabbed the first book in my left hand, the right hand grabbed this book.

With his background as a geologist, Paul Spudis, introduces us to our nearest neighbor, the moon. Packed full of illustrations, photos, diagrams and charts the book leads us through the various theories on the moon’s creation, transformation, and its current state today. Extensive details are given for rock and mineral types and distributions are provided having been derived from the latest data available. All of which leads to his thoughts on a cost-effective program to go back to the moon and utilize those resources. The original hardback was published in 1996, but even with that, it is a must read stepping-stone into what we know and a great foundation to understand what we are learning today.

3. Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century, W. W. Mendell, Lunar and Planetary Institute
The second book a grabbed with my left hand was this nearly 900 page volume by Wendell Mendell. Mendell is one of those folks lurking in the halls of Johnson Space Center in Houston was still “Lunar, when lunar was no longer Cool.” This book too extensively discusses various pieces to the puzzle once assembled leads to the completion of a fully functional Lunar Base. The latter chapters address the advancement beyond lunar development to Mars and possible colonization of space. The epilogue is an essay from Ben Bova which is a fictionalized vision of a speech given at a celebration of the United States Tri-centennial, on July 4th 2076. Published in 1985, this book holds up well for being 20 plus years old now. It is ahrd to find but well worth the search and hopefully the link below will help.

4. Cosmos, Carl Sagan, Random House
Published in 1980, this book is a companion piece to the hallmark television mini-series of the same name. Slickly packaged with, (at that time), state-of-the-art computer generated animation and the charismatic personality and enthusiasm of Carl Sagan, the program was a huge hit and made Sagan literally a household name. The book chronicles the program with a chapter dedicated to each episode.

With the box set of the miniseries now available, the Cosmos collection is having a small revival as people too young to recall the original airings are introduced to it. They too can learn why older folks can no longer hear the term, “Billions and billions…” without thinking fondly of Carl Sagan.

5. The Rocket Company, Patrick J. G. Steinnon and David, M. Hoerr, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc. (AIAA)
This is actually the first of two fictional books that appear on the list. Released midsummer of this year, (2005), the story follows the efforts of a fictional company founded by seven DotCom billionaires with thoughts of developing a cheap access to space, launch vehicle. I’ll be doing a full book review of this one in the very near future but suffice it to say, this book covers all the bases and provides enough facts, details and data, I think I could build a spacecraft, (the only thing missing is the cash). With enough of a story to satisfy the fiction lovers, and enough numbers to make the engineers swoon, this one is a must read.

6. Making Space Happen, Paula Berinstein, Medford Press
May of 2002 saw the release of Making Space Happen, in which Paula Berinstein, chronicles the efforts of scientists, astronauts, engineers, and entrepreneurs to open space to the general public. Compiled from interviews taken over a 3-year period, Berinstein also explores issues such as governmental policies, private patents, environmental impact, and other items of concern. Although several developments and changes have come along in the past few years, the insights this book provides into the thoughts and visions of several major movers-and-shakers of alt. space is well worth the reading.

7. Moonrush, Dennis Wingo, Apogee Books
Moonrush discusses the world view of our growing population and shrinking resources to support that population. The bulk of the first half of the book explores statistics, facts, myths and legends surrounding fossel fuel consumption and reserves. In the second half of the book Dennis Wingo unfolds the possible use of fuel cells as a solution for clean energy. With the big possibility of Platinum Group Metals deposited on the moon by impacting asteroids, access to a key ingredient to fuel cells (which is rare and environmentally damaging to mine on earth), opens up. The exploration of mining missions to the moon is discussed in a segment that was all too short for me at the end of the book. This is a book you must have if you are interested in finding out what resource utilization on the moon is all about.

Two new but separate books with the same title, both worth the read.

8. Return to the Moon, Rick Tumlinson, Apogee Books
As I mentioned in the introduction, this book has not been released yet, but I should get my hand on a prerelease copy of it soon and will follow up with a full review of it after the holidays if not sooner. This too is a compilation of essays from various experts in the very wide field of space exploration. A few of the contributors’ works are in this list and they all bring the latest thoughts built from the latest data available. If you want to get up to speed on the activities and methods of Alt. Space today, and can only get one book for the holiday, this would be the book.

9. Return to the Moon, Harrison H. Schmitt, Springer
Harrison H. Schmitt, geologist and as an Apollo 17 astronaut, was the 12th in a line of only 12 people to actually step foot on the moon, is the author if this 2005 release. In this book he argues that humans need to reestablish themselves as a space faring race and return to the moon not only as a technological exercise, or feat of exploration and discovery, but as a solid business proposition. I’ll be following up the other two promised reviews with a full review of this book as well, so stay tuned for that one also.

10. Welcome to Moon Base, Ben Bova, Ballentine Books (a division of Random House)
The final book on my list is the other fictional story. In this book Ben Bova follows the journey of a newly hired worker traveling to his place of employment…the moon. The book is cleverly put together as we are introduced to this futuristic setting while the new workers go through their employee orientations and get tours of the facilities in which the will be working. Well known space illustrator R. Patrick (Pat) Rawlings provides some outstanding looks at life in and around the moon colony. Copy written in 1987, this book is hard to find, but with the clever story-telling and insight into what at the time was thought to be a very possible reality it is worth the effort to find a copy. This link should lead you to sources for the soft cover version of this fine book.


This list is just a small sample of what is available and I will post additional lists from time-to-time and will continue to provide a mix of older releases as well as books new on the market.

To comment or discuss this further join us at the OotC Forums

WordPress theme: Kippis 1.15