Realizing Tomorrow: The Path to Private Spaceflight

Realizing Tomorrow: The Path to Private Spaceflight

Realizing Tomorrow: The Path to Private Spaceflight

Realizing Tomorrow: The Path to Private Spaceflight

Synopsis

Nearly forty years passed between the Apollo moon landings, the grandest accomplishment of a government-run space program, and the Ansari X PRIZE-winning flights of SpaceShipOne, the greatest achievement of a private space program. Now, as we hover on the threshold of commercial spaceflight, authors Chris Dubbs and Emeline Paat-Dahlstrom look back at how we got to this point.
Their book traces the lives of the individuals who shared the dream that private individuals and private enterprise belong in space. Realizing Tomorrow provides a behind-the-scenes look at the visionaries, the crackpots, the financial schemes, the legal wrangling, the turf battles, and- underpinning the entire drama- the overwhelming desire of ordinary people to visit outer space. A compelling story of the pioneers of commercial spaceflight- both American and Soviet/Russian- and their efforts to open the final frontier to everyone, this book traces the path to private spaceflight even as it offers an instructive, entertaining, and cautionary note about its future.

Excerpt

It begins. From before recorded history, people like you and me have dreamed of journeying beyond the blue sky of Earth. We have dreamed of personal spaceflights even to other worlds. Within these pages you will discover the beginnings of those dreams coming true. This book is about the making of a new industry, new perspectives for humankind, and a new human movement.

My place in these beginnings came by accident — almost. During my preteen years in the 1950s, high-speed aviation, rockets, and space travel were constantly in the news. More than just headliners, the stories represented the beginnings of dreams come true — for a few. Chuck Yeager, Wernher von Braun, Willy Ley, and the Mercury astronauts were some of the people I associated with wishes I wanted to come true. They were real people doing and talking about real spacey things on TV and in the news.

While I imagined myself in the futures they were ushering in, there were other personages already there: Tintin, Buck Rogers, Dan Dare, Tom Corbett, Flash Gordon, Adam Strange, Tom Swift. I asked myself, could I be a part of these things? Would they become real and let me go along with them? My head was grounded just enough that I answered these questions with yes to the first and no to the second.

Within a few years, as the first cosmonaut and astronaut rocketed beyond the blue overhead, I focused on becoming a good aerospace engineer — good enough to build and launch great rockets and far-traveling spaceships. I didn’t allow myself to consciously believe I could travel there, too. Flash Gordon I wasn’t. Like so much else in life, that belief would change.

My thinking was changed by events. The revolution that hit the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, in 1972 turned my head: delay human exploration of other worlds to instead build a reusable Space Transportation System. News reports said this would be a space shuttle to . . .

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