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Robots in Space

Technology, Evolution, and Interplanetary Travel

Roger D. Launius and Howard E. McCurdy

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2008 Outstanding Academic Title, Choice Magazine

Given the near incomprehensible enormity of the universe, it appears almost inevitable that humankind will one day find a planet that appears to be much like the Earth. This discovery will no doubt reignite the lure of interplanetary travel. Will we be up to the task? And, given our limited resources, biological constraints, and the general hostility of space, what shape should we expect such expeditions to take?

In Robots in Space, Roger Launius and Howard McCurdy tackle these seemingly fanciful questions with rigorous scholarship and disciplined…

2008 Outstanding Academic Title, Choice Magazine

Given the near incomprehensible enormity of the universe, it appears almost inevitable that humankind will one day find a planet that appears to be much like the Earth. This discovery will no doubt reignite the lure of interplanetary travel. Will we be up to the task? And, given our limited resources, biological constraints, and the general hostility of space, what shape should we expect such expeditions to take?

In Robots in Space, Roger Launius and Howard McCurdy tackle these seemingly fanciful questions with rigorous scholarship and disciplined imagination, jumping comfortably among the worlds of rocketry, engineering, public policy, and science fantasy to expound upon the possibilities and improbabilities involved in trekking across the Milky Way and beyond. They survey the literature—fictional as well as academic studies; outline the progress of space programs in the United States and other nations; and assess the current state of affairs to offer a conclusion startling only to those who haven't spent time with Asimov, Heinlein, and Clarke: to traverse the cosmos, humans must embrace and entwine themselves with advanced robotic technologies.

Their discussion is as entertaining as it is edifying and their assertions are as sound as they are fantastical. Rather than asking us to suspend disbelief, Robots in Space demands that we accept facts as they evolve.

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Robots in Space

Roger D. Launius and Howard E. McCurdy

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Reviews

Entertaining reading.

Excellent, eye-opening, horizon-broadening reading! Highly recommended.

Noted space historians... breathe new life into the subject by examining its history as well as its possible future. They call for a new vision of human spaceflight—a 'transhuman' program that takes into account current trends in robotics, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering and other fields that are rapidly changing the nature of both humans and machines.

This short volume manages to capture the history of U.S. space flight, to explain the underpinnings of U.S. space policy and to plot out the possibilities for our future in space in a style that most anyone can enjoy.

A timely and thought-provoking read, no matter what side of the humans vs. robots debate one is on. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in where our species is ultimately headed in space.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
336
ISBN
9781421407630
Illustration Description
2 line drawings
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: A False Dichotomy
1. The Human/ Robot Debate
2. Human Spaceflight in Popular Culture
3. Promoting the Human Dimension
4. Robotic Spaceflight in Popular Culture
5. The New Space

Acknowledgments
Introduction: A False Dichotomy
1. The Human/ Robot Debate
2. Human Spaceflight in Popular Culture
3. Promoting the Human Dimension
4. Robotic Spaceflight in Popular Culture
5. The New Space Race
6. Interstellar Flight and the Human Future in Space
7. Homo sapiens, Transhumanism, and the Postbiological Universe
8. An Alternative Paradigm?
Appendix: Inaequate Words
Notes
Index

Author Bios
Roger D. Launius
Featured Contributor

Roger D. Launius, Ph.D.

Roger D. Launius is a senior curator at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum and the former chief historian of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). He has authored and coauthored several books on space exploration, most recently The Smithsonian Atlas of Space Exploration.
Featured Contributor

Howard E. McCurdy

Howard E. McCurdy is a professor in the School of Public Affairs at American University and the author of Faster, Better, Cheaper: Low-Cost Innovation in the U.S. Space Program; Inside NASA: High Technology and Organizational Change in the U.S. Space Program; and the coauthor of Robots in Space: Technology, Evolution, and Interplanetary Travel, all published by Johns Hopkins.
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