Can private enterprise fill NASA's shoes and provide the same expertise, safety measures and lessons learned?
In order to tell this story, it is important to understand the politics of space as well as the dangers, why it is so difficult to explore and utilize the resources of space. Some past and recent triumphs and failures will be discussed, pointing the way to a successful space policy that includes taking risks but also learning how to mitigate them.
Founded in 1949, the Chinese Academy of Sciences is the nation's highest academic institution in natural sciences. Its major responsibilities are to conduct research in basic and technological sciences, to undertake nationwide integrated surveys on natural resources and ecological environment, to provide the country with scientific data and consultations for government's decision-making, to undertake government-assigned projects with regard to key S&T problems in the process of socio-economic development, to initiate personnel training, and to promote China's high-tech enterprises through its active engagement in these areas.
The book also highlights the increased reliance of aviation safety on space-based navigation and communication systems, the increasing space systems traffic through the international airspace under the jurisdiction of the ICAO, and the emerging hybrid systems such as aero-spacecraft and space planes, to advocate the practical benefits of directly expanding the ICAO Convention domain beyond the airspace to include outer space up to the geosynchronous orbit.
Section I begins by describing how Astronauts for Hire (A4H) was created in 2010 by Brian Shiro, a highly qualified NASA astronaut candidate, and a group of other astronaut candidates. Erik introduces A4H's vision for opening the space frontier to commercial astronauts and describes the tantalizing science opportunities offered when suborbital and orbital trips become routine.
Section II describes the vehicles astronauts will use. Anticipation is on the rise for the new crop of commercial suborbital and orbital spaceships that will serve the scientific and educational market. These reusable rocket-propelled vehicles are expected to offer quick, routine, and affordable access to the edge of space, along with the capability to carry research and educational crew members. The quick turnaround of these vehicles is central to realizing the profit-making potential of repeated sojourns by astronauts to suborbital and orbital heights.
Section III describes the various types of missions this new corps of astronauts will fly and who will hire them. For example, suborbital flights may be used to do high altitude astronomy, life science experiments, and microgravity physics. This section continues with an examination of the types of missions that will accelerate human expansion outward, to Exploration Class missions through lunar bases, the establishment of interplanetary spaceports, and outposts on the surface of Mars. Along the way it describes the tasks commercial astronauts will perform, ranging from mining asteroids to harvesting helium.