Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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p. vii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

Whenever two people attempt to complete a history project such as this, they by necessity draw on the work of earlier investigators and incur a good many intellectual debts. The authors would like to acknowledge the assistance of these individuals. The contributions of several key people allowed us to conduct our research and write this book. ...

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Introduction: A False Dichotomy

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pp. xi-xx

In the fall of 2000 we traveled to Boston to tape a television program on space exploration, discussing a book we had just completed, Imagining Space. The book contained fantastic images anticipating the wonders of space exploration juxtaposed with photographs of actual accomplishments. ...

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1 The Human/Robot Debate

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pp. 1-31

For many years, people advancing the dominant approach to space travel envisioned humans leaving the Earth and traveling to distant spheres. The steps in this approach were first advanced by purveyors of science fiction and then fully articulated in scientific publications designed for popular consumption. ...

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2 Human Spaceflight as Utopia

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pp. 32-61

In the 1830s an astute French interpreter of United States society, Alexis de Tocqueville, observed that Americans had a “lively faith in human perfectibility” and that as a society they believed they were “a body progressing” rather than one declining or stable.1 If anything de Tocqueville understated this belief, for the concept of America as a Utopia in the making ...

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3 Promoting the Human Dimension

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pp. 62-95

Without question, the most powerful vision of space travel to emerge in the first half-century of cosmic flight was that articulated by Wernher von Braun, one of the most important rocket engineers and champions of space exploration during the mid–twentieth century. Von Braun appeared as a spokesperson for space exploration as the result of a series of articles ...

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4 Robotic Spaceflight in Popular Culture

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pp. 96-124

Science fiction proved to be a powerful force for generating public interest in actual space travel. Fictional sagas, transmitted through the media of popular culture, anticipated the practical presentation of spaceflight and encouraged the formation of societies devoted to advances in rocketry and spacecraft. ...

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5 The New Space Race

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pp. 125-161

Given the state of space-age technology at the midpoint of the twentieth century, most people planning cosmic missions assumed that human operators would be needed to complete a variety of tasks. Humans would be needed to pilot spacecraft, operate space stations, conduct expeditions to the Moon and other planets, assemble extraterrestrial bases, ...

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6 Interstellar Flight and the Human Future in Space

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pp. 162-190

Since people first contemplated rocketry as a means of transportation, visionaries have anticipated the possibility of travel from the Earth to other solar systems. “A discussion such as this may seem academic in the extreme,” wrote Robert Goddard, the first person to launch a liquid-fuel rocket, ...

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7 Homo sapiens, Transhumanism, and the Postbiological Universe

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pp. 191-219

In the conventional human and robotic approaches to flight, the time assigned for the completion of space missions—relatively speaking—is short. The longest human expedition to the Moon (Apollo 15) took thirteen days. Individual astronauts may remain on the International Space Station for as much as six months. ...

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8 An Alternative Paradigm?

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pp. 220-252

The civil space effort, especially in the United States, drew its inspiration from a set of proposals appearing in the mid–twentieth century that can be generally characterized as the von Braun paradigm. Those proposals, with virtually no exceptions, preoccupied themselves with human spaceflight. ...

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Appendix: Inadequate Words

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pp. 253-256

Anyone seeking to discuss robotic spaceflight quickly enters a terminological morass. The terms traditionally used to describe human and machine flight benefit from exactness but unfortunately lack propriety. When extended into the future, their exactness disappears. Modern substitutes suffer similar deficiencies when confronted with future possibilities. ...

Notes

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pp. 257-302

Index

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pp. 303-313