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Back To The Moon [Hardcover]

Travis S. Taylor , Les Johnson
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

2 Dec 2010
Sci-fi visionaries Travis S. Taylor (Solar Sails: A Novel Approach to Interplanetary Travel) and Les Johnson (Living Off the Land in Space: Green Roads to the Cosmos) take readers "Back to the Moon" in this saga of humanity's return to the lunar surface - possibly forever.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Baen Books (2 Dec 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439134057
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439134054
  • Product Dimensions: 3 x 16.5 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,660,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Travis S. Taylor--"Doc" Taylor to his friends--has earned his soubriquet the hard way: He has a doctorate in optical science and engineering, a master's degree in physics, a master's degree in aerospace engineering, a master's degree in astronomy, and a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. Dr. Taylor has worked on various programs for the Department of Defense and NASA for the past sixteen years. He's currently working on several advanced propulsion concepts, very large space telescopes, space-based beamed energy systems, and next generation space launch concepts. He has appeared in several episodes of the History Channel's Universe "series. He lives in Auburn, AL with his wife Karen and their daughter. Les Johnson is a NASA physicist, manager, author, husband and father. By day, he serves as the Deputy Manager for the Advanced Concepts Office at the NASA George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, one of the coolest jobs in the universe. In the early 2000s, he was NASA's Manager for Interstellar Propulsion Research and later managed the In-Space Propulsion Technology Project. He was technical consultant for the movie Lost in Space" and has appeared on the Discovery Channel series, "Physics of the Impossible" in the "How to Build a Starship" episode. "He has also appeared in three episodes of the Science Channel series, Exodus" Earth." In his spare time he writes popular science books and articles, including Solar Sails: A Novel approach to Interplanetary Travel," Living Off the Land in Space: Green Roads to the Cosmos" and Paradise Regained: The Regreening of Earth."

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Shame it was cancelled 15 Jan 2014
By Space
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Well detailed account of how NASA leads an attempt to rescue Chinese astronauts on the moon using their new and untested Constellation lunar vehicles and boosters. All the technical details are there and dovetail in nicely with the story. (Alas in real life constellation was cancelled by the obama administration) Recommended.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The way the future was supposed to be... 18 Dec 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on
I have been a great fan of both Les Johnson and Travis Taylor for many years, and eagerly anticipated this collaboration. I was not dissapointed. Except for recent political decisions, this novel, Back to the Moon, would almost not qualify as science fiction. It's more like a techo-thriller due to the great attention to accuracy of the science and technology with minimal extrapolation into the near future. Dr. Taylor addresses this irony in the afterward, where he describes how woefully underfunded NASA has become, but even so could still have achieved much more if the politicians hadn't kept moving the goal posts every 4 to 8 years. The afterward is practically a pro-space manifesto, and the entire work gets my highest recommendation to anyone interested in space exploration. And it is a great entertaining read, as well.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does for Near Future Space Flight What Tom Clancy Did for Near Future War and Terrorism 27 Dec 2010
By Mark R. Whittington - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"Back to the Moon" by Travis S. Taylor and Les Johnson does for near future space travel what Tom Clancy's novels used to do for near future war and terrorism. Too bad the near future the book describes has been jettisoned by President Obama.

"Back to the Moon" is set about eight to ten years in the future and concerns events surrounding NASA's planned return to the Moon. The book is filled with technical detail about how the Ares/Orion/Altair system would have worked, beginning with an unmanned shakedown mission to test the new Moon ship's systems.

In the meantime, a private space entrepreneur has sold enough seats on his new space craft, Dreamcscape, to fly a loop around the Moon on the vacation trip of the lifetime.
Finally, the Chinese are mounting their own lunar expedition, sending their own unmanned lunar lander on a shakedown mission.

When the Dreamscape, with its passenger list of the well heeled and adventurous passes behind the Moon, the commercial cruise ship picks up a low power signal from what is apparently a crew of Chinese space explorers, having crash landed on the Moon. The "unmanned shakedown mission" was in fact a Chinese attempt to steal away the glory from America to land the first people on the Moon in almost fifty years.

So the first American expedition to the Moon since 1972 becomes a rescue mission. Here the novel hits its stride, with enough death defying situations and potentially life ending technical "anomalies" (to coin the NASA term) to--well--fill a good two hour action film directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks.

The NASA astronauts, the Chinese, and even the commercial space pilots must find a way to work together so that everyone can make it home on a mission that makes "Apollo 13" seem dull and ordinary.

The great tragedy is that "Back to the Moon" started as a near future techno thriller but, as the result of a monumentally stupid political decision by President Barack Obama, ended as a future alternate history. The authors touch upon this issue is a kind of literary cri de Coeur as an afterward, a pleading as it were for some kind of return to the Moon effort to be restored.

I recommend "Back to the Moon" very highly. More to the point, I wish Ron Howard or someone in Hollywood would make a movie out of it. There seems to be a lot of interest in the Moon, at least in the "secret history of Apollo" genre. Maybe there can be some for a possible future mission to the Moon as well.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Quite As Planned 27 Nov 2010
By Arthur W. Jordin - Published on
Back to the Moon (2010) is a standalone SF novel. It is set in a near future when America and China are racing to the Moon. The civilian sector also is interested in Moon flights.

In this novel, Bill Stetson is a NASA astronaut slated to be mission commander on the first mission back to the Moon.

Paul Gesling is a retired Navy pilot and the chief pilot for Space Excursions. He will pilot the Dreamscape on the first commercial voyage around the Moon.

Gary Childers is the founder and chief salesman of Space Excursions. As a very wealthy man, Childers used the money he made in coal to make his childhood dreams come true. His company is planning to take very wealthy civilians around the Moon and back.

In this story, Bill is Flight Controller on the Blue Team during the test run of the automated moon flight. Something goes wrong on the mating of the Orion crew vessel with the Earth Departure Stage and Bill takes remote control of the Orion. After successfully mating the Orion to the EDS, analysis of the flight telemetry indicates that a circuit board might have been defective.

Afterward, the test run flies itself to the Moon, sends the lander down to the surface and then brings the ascent stage back to the Orion. Mission Control loses telemetry from the ascent stage, but it never losses the link with the Orion. It successfully docks with the Orion and the assemblage returns to Earth.

The communication problems seriously bother the NASA engineers. Both failures could have been caused by one type of circuit board widely used in space vehicles and elsewhere. These boards are made in China.

Meanwhile, Space Excursions is having problems of its own. A Trojan horse in the company computers has sent plans for Dreamscape hardware to the Chinese. The computers apparently were made China with the malware built into the operating system.

The security chief wants to cover up the whole incident. But Paul talks Childers into quietly reporting the problem to the FBI. They reload the computer systems from backups and continue business as usual.

Later, a Chinese intelligence team monitors the Dreamscape during its operations. The team is using a Honda van with a TV dish to track data from the spaceship. They park the van within fifteen miles of the air strip everytime the scramjet/rocket combination takes off and lands.

The NASA manned mission is preparing for a launch. The Chinese send an automated ship to the Moon two weeks prior to this launch date. Then the Dreamscape takes off with five wealthy passengers a week before the launch. So much activity in such a short time.

This tale takes Paul and his passengers to the backside of the Moon. There they receive a low powered radio signal from four Chinese survivors of a crashed lander. The Dreamscape passengers locate the lander and send recordings back to Earth.

The NASA mission quickly becomes a rescue run. A Chinese liaison team is sent to coordinate with Bill and his crew. NASA teams study ways to lighten the ascent stage to allow six persons to escape from the Moon.

The authors were involved in the design of the spacecraft created for the return to the Moon. Although this effort was canceled, these craft are the basis for this novel. While the fictitious emergency run was created out of whole cloth, the technical details are real.

Highly recommended for Taylor & Johnson fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of Moon flights, engineering improvisations, and personal courage. Read and enjoy!

-Arthur W. Jordin
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Treatise for a return to the Moon or a novel? 27 July 2011
By K. Cripe - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Let me state right up front that I've read almost every sci-fi novel 'Doc' Travis has written and the ones I haven't yet are in my stack of books to read. That said, at first I thought this would be something different from him, and I was right. And wrong. :)

I thought this would be little more than a thinly veiled attempt to boost interest in NASA's manned space program, and in a way, it is that. But it is also a damned good read, a science and suspense packed thriller. I won't go into the details or plot of the book, others have done that, and I don't want to spoil the book for you.

If you have an interest in space travel, if you ever dreamt of going up in spaceship as a kid, or an adult, read this book.

I'm wondering how much of some of the details of this book were made up, and how many were carefully 'sanitized' stories of what goes on behind the scenes at NASA? And like other reviewers have stated, the Afterword is direct and to the point. I hadn't realized just how small of a shoestring budget NASA has to work with until now. That needs to change. Humanity needs to get off this one, small mudball and get out into space.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't let the cheesy cover fool you... it's a great read 8 Mar 2011
By Winston Lanelle - Published on
First some background: I'm a 30-something physics Ph.D who hasn't read a Sci-Fi book since 'Dune' back in high school. When I got this book as a gift I almost didn't read it because the cover reminded me of some 1950's pulp fiction novel. But I did read it, and I'm glad I did. I liked the attention to technical detail and the story was certainly exciting and suspenseful. I have two criticisms. First, the parallel story thread about the Chinese espionage was interesting, but it ended rather abruptly and there was no tie-in later in the story. This left me wondering if the only point of this was to make a subtle political point. Second, the authors are clearly pro-manned space flight, and the characters go so far as to criticize unmanned robotic space probes as "boring". While the story clearly portrayed the excitement of manned space flight, I don't think it made a good case for its necessity to do great science. I think the book did a somewhat better job making the case for manned space flight's actual and potential economic benefits. After reading this book, I am motivated to go off and read up on the pros and cons of manned space flight, which is a good sign that this book is entertaining as well as thought provoking.
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