In all of humanity, perhaps nothing is as far-reaching as the idea of space travel, moving away from our planet of origin to explore the neighborhood and expand human presence. Space Age, a companion volume to the PBS television series, chooses to focus on the history and social implications of space travel rather than the physical aspects. We are introduced to countless individuals who have had a part in getting Earthlings off of the planet Earth, including Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, whose 1898 ‘reaction machine’ was the first example of a liquid fuel rocket ship, and Robert Hutchings Goddard, who sat down in the prime of his life and constructed an idea he called “The Ultimate Migration,” the premise of which was more in line with an Arthur C. Clarke novel than contemporary physics.
Further along in the book, which is filled to the brim with vivid drawings and breathtaking photographs, we are carried to the moon and back. This section of the book discusses the implications of the Soviet‘s first launch into space with Sputnik in 1957 and the resulting race to the moon and what this landing has meant to humanity. How much have we learned about the Earth from reaching the moon? How much damage have we done to Earth and how can we avoid causing any more?
Not only is the history of space flight explored, but its future as well.
Again, the book focuses on the social implications of traveling beyond the moon while still managing to be interesting. We are brought back to the moon, but this time to the lunar base where an observation deck sits, or the edges of the colony where we dig for resources to build rockets and propel them far beyond the solar system. .
In the final chapter we are asked more specifically what things are to come. Is there advanced life in the universe besides ourselves, and if so, what would they look like? How would they communicate?
There will be many more books on the subject of space travel as technology advances. This book will have the distinction of being the social tripwire in an age of rampant dreaming, the book that makes you think of the humanity behind the cold constructs of space travel.