26 February 2018 Reviews

The New Gold Rush: the Riches of Space Beckon!

It has long been a mantra within the space community that there is money to be made in and from space. It has already been proved to some extent by the communications satellite revolution but writers have also predicted untold wealth generation from more ambitious applications such as solar power satellites and asteroid mining. This, effectively, is the message of this book which, according to its publicity, “captures the most exciting new advances in harnessing space as a global resource”. With reference to a common legal phrase, it also “explores how all people can share in the bounties of the global commons of outer space”.

The book seeks to explain why the gold rush of its title is different from what has gone before and what it might mean for “jobs, resources and more”. It covers solar power and space mining – but also delves into nascent developments such as commercial space transport and in-orbit servicing.

The author also looks at space security and defence, and risk issues such as orbital debris and cosmic hazards. He then moves on to more long-term space proposals including space habitats and colonies before a concluding chapter ‘Looking toward a more hopeful global society’.

The author is, by his nature, an optimist but he is realistic in warning of the problems faced in achieving the goals described. He also has his ‘finger on the pulse’ as far as world affairs are concerned and even steals a catchword from Donald Trump. The idea, he says, is “not to make the USA great again but to transform our global economy and its worldwide human services to make all Earthlings great”. One of the key steps towards this, he adds, is ensuring “the peaceful use of outer space… for all humankind”.

Mark Williamson

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