The remit of a book entitled ‘space exploration: past, present and future’ is huge and one immediately wonders at the justification for the blurb’s characterisation of the volume as a “detailed examination”, given its less than 300 pages. That said, who really believes what publishers put on the back cover!
In reality, this is a well-written collection of essays on how ‘space exploration’ (including space science and space technology) has impacted the world and will continue to in the future. It is, however, a strange mix of style and content, beginning with a spaceflight primer and potted history of the Space Age and continuing with mini-encyclopaedic chapters on spacefarers, agencies and institutes. There is coverage of both private industry and planetary science and a look towards the future of scientific research and manned space exploration – so, something for everyone perhaps.
The book concludes with 30-odd pages of appendices, references and a glossary...but there is no index. This lack of an index devalues the text, because it makes it relatively inaccessible to researchers and other serious readers. That said, there is a lot of material in this handy paperback and its low price makes it an attractive gift for any budding space fan.