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Realizing Tomorrow

The Path to Private Spaceflight

Chris Dubbs and Emeline Paat-Dahlstrom , Foreword by Charles D. Walker

Publication Year: 2011

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.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Title Page

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pp. iii

Copyright Page

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pp. iv

Table of Contents

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pp. v

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

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 ...

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pp. xiii

For all of the people who shared our excitement about this subject and gave generously of their time in so many ways, we wish to say thank you. For all of those who shared memories, documents, and photographs, we enjoyed spending time with you and hope that this book captures your many...

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pp. 1-8

The Holland America cruise ship ss Statendam stood at berth in New York Harbor on 4 December 1972 preparing for a curious mission related to the American space program. Tom Buckley, reporter for the New York Times, boarded the ship, unsure what to expect. There was a buzz that this trip would be something special, with big-name headliners: Wernher von Braun, ...

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1. The Entire Population of the Earth in Orbit

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pp. 9-31

A few weeks before the launch of Apollo 17, a physics class at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, hosted a guest speaker lecturing on the feasibility of creating mammoth orbital space colonies. Not space stations of the sort then on NASA’s drawing board but space colonies on which tens of thousands of people,...

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2. The Birth of Private Rocket Companies

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pp. 32-60

In 1965 auto racing legend Walt Arfons showed up at the Sacramento, California, headquarters of the rocket company Aerojet-General with a simple problem. He needed more power in his rocket car so that he could recapture the land speed record he and his brother Art had previously held. During 1964–65 the land speed record was as ephemeral as a mayfly. Replacing ...

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3. Private Citizens Get Their Chance in Space

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pp. 61-86

Morning dawned chilly on 12 October 1964 on the inhospitable steppes of Soviet Kazakhstan. A bus pulled up to a launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome and unloaded the men who were about to launch in the new Voskhod spacecraft. They strolled casually past the crowd of onlookers, smiling and waving, dressed in simple woolen trousers and jackets. From ...

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4. Russia Commercializes Space

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pp. 87-113

In May 1990 members of the Houston Space Society gathered at the home of Jim Davidson in Friendswood, Texas, to put together the society’s monthly newsletter, The Colonist. It was the dawn of a new decade. NASA had emerged from its post-Challenger period of questioning and internal scrutiny to resume regular shuttle flights, launching satellites, the Hubble Space Telescope...

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5. Citizen Explorers

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pp. 114-140

On 27 April 2001 a chartered jet filled with Western tourists arrived from Moscow at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. They had come to witness the launch the next day of the world’s first space tourist, Dennis Tito, aboard the Russian spacecraft Soyuz TM-32. It would be one small piece of history for the venerable launch complex but a groundbreaking event in the fledgling business of sending private citizens...

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6. The Quest for a Reusable Spaceship

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pp. 141-166

The winds blew fifty miles an hour in the desert of Mojave, California, on 1 March 1999, buffeting the thousand-strong crowd gathered at the airport. They had been drawn to this isolated Mecca of New Age space development to witness Gary Hudson, CEO of Rotary Rocket, Inc., roll out his Atmospheric Test Vehicle (ATV). When operational, the ATV would be able to ...

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7. The Ansari X PRIZE Launches an Industry

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pp. 167-191

If Peter Diamandis’s Greek immigrant parents had believed in omens, they might have made much of the fact that their son was born in 1961, the year that Yuri Gagarin became the first person to travel in space. But space was very far from their roots on the small Greek island of Lesvos. They had struggled through poverty and the horrors of World War II to put together ...

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8. Private Manned Spaceflight Makes History

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pp. 192-217

The X PRIZE launch day, 18 May 1996, began with a celebrity-packed press conference announcing the prize and ended with a gala black-tie event at the St. Louis Science Center, at which the prize garnered its first publicly announced competitor. Amid the VIP crowd, which included NASA administrator Dan Goldin, moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, and some twenty astronauts...

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9. Space Tourism Goes Mainstream

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pp. 218-242

In September 2004, as the days wound down to SpaceShipOne’s first X PRIZE attempt, the age of commercial manned space flight got its own official launch halfway around the globe, in London. Sir Richard Branson, billionaire owner of the Virgin Group, stood beside Burt Rutan to announce that he was starting a new business, a spaceline named Virgin Galactic that ...

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10. It Takes More Than a Spaceship to Build an Industry

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pp. 243-267

Nearly forty years ago, Gerard O’Neill changed attitudes toward the private space movement by giving it academic credibility and encouraging the development of new technologies and new policies that would support human communities in space. The space shuttle, electromagnetic accelerator, solar power satellite, and the Moon Treaty were but a few of the big pieces ...


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pp. 269-284


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pp. 285-299

E-ISBN-13: 9780803235274
E-ISBN-10: 0803235275
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803216105
Print-ISBN-10: 0803216106

Page Count: 344
Illustrations: 40 illustrations
Publication Year: 2011

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Outer space -- Civilian use.
  • Space industrialization.
  • Space flights.
  • Space tourism.
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