Book Review Roundup

Run -- don't walk -- to your nearest bookstore!

Run — don’t walk — to your nearest bookstore!

It’s now been five months since my book The Value of the Moon was published and I am happy to report that it has been well received.  Let us hope that more people see the value of lunar return and the development of cislunar space as time goes on.

Here is a very complimentary review post recently published by a blogger named “sagansense”:

I just finished ‘The Value of the Moon’ by geologist/lunar scientist Dr. Paul D. Spudis, and I implore you – yes you – to read this cover to cover, as it illuminates the past 50+ year debacle that is the American space program; notably, the human spaceflight sector, and why the Moon – not Mars – is the logical choice for humankind to gain a foothold to the rest of the solar system.

I couldn’t have put it better myself!

Other reviews and mentions on-line:

Dave Eicher in Astronomy magazine.  Thanks, Dave for your very nice review — it was the first one published!

Frank Morring in Aviation Week and Space Technology.

Dennis Wingo at his blog.

Astronaut Tom Jones in Aerospace America.

A discussion of the book with Bruce Dorminey of Forbes magazine.

Jeff Foust at The Space Review.

An interview with me about the book at

A summary/rating of the book from the “Get Abstract” web site.

Author interview at

A recent appearance on The Space Show, discussing the book with David Livingston.

Three radio appearances on NPR, from various stations around the country:

Houston Public Radio

Jefferson Public Radio (northern California)

The Joy Cardin Show on Wisconsin Public Radio

One final (related, but non-book) note:  Tony Lavoie and I recently presented a revised version of our lunar return architecture at the AIAA Space 2016 annual meeting, held this year in Long Beach CA.  Click HERE to read the paper.

This entry was posted in China space program, Lunar development, Lunar exploration, space industry, space policy, space technology, Space transportation. Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Book Review Roundup

  1. Grand Lunar says:

    Great to hear about the reception the new book has been getting!

    I think Foust says it best when he writes “a good guide to what NASA could do on the Moon would be Paul Spudis’ new book, The Value of the Moon.”

  2. Joe says:

    Glad to know the book is being well received.

    Could you say how the presentation at the AIAA Space 2016 annual meeting went?

    • Paul Spudis says:

      As a co-author, I may be biased, but I thought that it went very well. The session was relatively well attended and we were asked reasonably thoughtful questions. Once the paper is formally released by the AIAA and people have a chance to study the ideas in detail, I expect more critical attention, as should be the case.

  3. Michael Wright says:

    Nice review by Dennis Wingo though both of you have been long time “Moon fellows.” Wingo’s review mentioned how VSE derailed from the Moon, I then was thinking even though both Spudis and Wingo have discussed compelling reasons the value of the Moon, these guys cannot compete for public attention of Musk’s vision for Mars.

    • Joe says:

      It is true that it is hard to compete with Musk for attention, if all you are looking for is internet “fans” and “news” articles by reporters that are totally uninterested in any kind of real technical detail.

      But you are an iteration behind on Musk’s version of a “reality” television show. It would seem (in the aftermath of one of his rockets blowing up on the launch pad for as yet unknown reasons) Musk does not feel promising the colonization of Mars by 2030 is enough to keep his acolytes contented.

      He is now (with no seeming sense of irony) promising the whole Solar System and wants to rename his “Mars Colonial Transport”.

      • Grand Lunar says:

        Wasn’t until I read your post that I realized the timing of Musk’s proposition.

        Indeed, after each major failure, Musk promises something bigger.

        I suppose after another blow up, Musk may advocate that SpaceX will offer interstellar colonization.

        How long might it be before people realize what Musk is really selling?

        • Joe says:

          “How long might it be before people realize what Musk is really selling?”

          For his internet fans the answer is probably never. Even if he finally “folds his tent”, they will likely always believe there was some conspiracy that kept him from building his Martian Colony (or perhaps now it will be Mars and Titan Colonies).

          We can only hope there is a distinction to be made between those folks and our political leaders and at least some journalists.

  4. James says:

    “Interplanetary Transport System (ITS),[3] formerly known as the Mars Colonial Transporter (MCT), is SpaceX’s privately funded development project to design and build a spaceflight system[4] of reusable rocket engines, launch vehicles and space capsules to transport humans to Mars and return to Earth.”
    From: ‘Interplanetary Transport System’ at Wikipedia

    Well, in defense of what is quite hard to defend, Mr. Musk has been extremely adept at sucking up US government funding and technology almost right from the beginning of what is now known as SpaceX in order to build the Falcon family of military fast response launchers and has continued to use the ignorance of space cadets to his great advantage by promoting himself as an entrepreneur that will soon get humans to Mars. He can spin a technobabble fairy tale better than most science fiction writers and has a President for a ‘political friend’.

    Of course taking the time, effort, and money to build a highly reliable SpaceX launcher to help us get to LEO or beyond LEO to develop “The Value of the Moon” might be much more useful at this point in time instead of loudly proposing an ‘Interplanetary Transport System’.

    • Paul Spudis says:

      Of course taking the time, effort, and money to build a highly reliable SpaceX launcher to help us get to LEO or beyond LEO to develop “The Value of the Moon” might be much more useful at this point in time instead of loudly proposing an ‘Interplanetary Transport System’.

      The problem is that in that case, you’d be judged on results — or lack thereof. The Mars Colony fantasy is always safely in the far distant future.

    • Joe says:

      If you take Musk at his word (Tweet’s?) The ITS will:

      (1) Use no advanced propulsion upper stage. That means the one way trip for the “colonist” to Mars would be about six months.

      (2) Deliver 100 people for a total payload mass to Mars of 100 Tons. Assuming that is metric tons, that is a mass allocation per colonist of 2,200 lbs. per person. That would have to include (among other things):
      (a) The weight of the individual.
      (b) All life support (food, water, breathing gas, temperature control, etc.)
      (c) Acceleration Seats and Seat Pallets, Launch/Entry Pressure Suits.
      (d) Radiation Shielding.
      (e) Etc.

      Going to be pretty crowded, isn’t it?

      • James says:

        Joe –

        (d) Radiation Shielding.

        Why bother? He is expecting some folks to be willing to die.

        ‘Slow accumulation of whole body dose (expressed in Sv) from GCR presently limits the duration of manned space operations outside earth’s magnetosphere to times on the order of 180 days. The overall programmatic cost of the available active or passive shielding needed to extend that limit is prohibitive at this time.”
        From: ‘Practical Applications of Cosmic Ray Science: Spacecraft, Aircraft, Ground Based Computation and Control Systems and Human Health and Safety’ Spring 2015
        By Steve Koontz – NASA, Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas

        Forget Science.

        If we “judged on results”, cancelling the Constellation Program cost us:

        Altair Lunar Lander options are still being tested.
        Ares I – Gone.
        Ares V – Morphed into the nifty SLS.
        Orion – Morphed into the nifty International Orion.
        Planning – Moon mission planning is still being done quietly.

        So, did the powerfully impressive fast response and relatively simple Ares I need to die a political death to give the not so fast response and complicated Falcon 9 enough money and development time so it could maybe take the place of Ares I types of military and commercial launchers and the President could gain a ‘political friend’?

        The Constellation Program of putting astronauts on the Moon was most likely cancelled by the President for trivial political reasons. Rocket science and the potential usefulness of the Moon for national security interests, commercial benefits, and science probably had zip influence on the President’s cancellation decision.

        • Michael Wright says:

          “putting astronauts on the Moon was most likely cancelled by the President for trivial political reasons.”

          I would have cancelled anyway because it was not going to happen. Costs of Orion and Ares 1 were going up and up, schedule was being pushed out more and more. Altair lunar lander “disappeared” along with Ares 5 (maybe these were deferred for later design and development). If Constellation was going to be Apollo redux, then they would have to do what was done in 1960s. Simultaneous design and build the capsule, lander, big rocket to get to the Moon, spacesuits, communications and God knows what else. But also back then funding was provided, that didn’t happen with Constellation.

          It seems we are doing the same about Mars, pretending there really is a program but so far it doesn’t make sense to me. I see lots of artwork of a spiffy lander on Mars (but it sure looks small), some reference to a big rocket, but all this propaganda is weak on habitat module where crew has to live for months and months during transition.

          • Joe says:

            “Costs of Orion and Ares 1 were going up and up, schedule was being pushed out more and more. Altair lunar lander “disappeared” along with Ares 5 (maybe these were deferred for later design and development).”

            Hi Michael,

            No offense, but I worked on Constellation (Systems Engineering – EVA Requirements and Verification) and you have absorbed a lot of “internet knowledge” that is at variance with the facts.

            First (so we don’t get side tracked into a back and forth about the specific Constellation designs) I was not a supporter of the Ares I/Ares V launch and a half architecture. Rather was a rather vociferous advocate of the plan put forward by what was called the NASA Gold Team. If you are not familiar with that concept Dr. Spudis wrote an excellent description of it on this website which I think is still available.

            The selected Constellation architecture would have been achievable if the originally promised funding had been delivered, but it was not (ironically the Augustine Commission’s statement that to do Constellation would have required an extra $3 B/year would have brought the funding back to about the originally promised levels).

            If the Gold Teams architecture had been selected it could have fit within the reduced budget profiles that the program was actually getting.

            Again if you are interested in all the politics that went into the process I strongly recommend Dr. Spudis’s articles on the subject.

          • Michael Wright says:

            Joe, yes I admit of absorbing “internet knowledge” and I’ve read Spudis’ articles (but I guess reading lots of other stuff many things get muddled). There is that $3B Augustine mentioned, and it seems that dollar amount is always mentioned. One one of these lists (NW, Wingo, or this one. so many I’m having difficultly keeping them in perspective), someone wrote Shuttle ops was $3B/year, ISS construction was $3B/year, ISS ops was $3B/year. I’ve seen this amount in other places. I believe Wayne Hale wrote he was not pleased with Augustine Committee II because whatever options presented, none are to exceed $3B/year!

            Regarding partnership with NASA and SpaceX, I don’t see anything wrong with that such as Dragon provides means to deliver and return large items because it has a big door (Soyuz and Progress do not). But saying SpaceX shows how private companies leads the way to Mars (yeah, a fantasy far off into the future) but they should admit much of that is at government expense.

          • Paul Spudis says:

            Michael and Joe,

            Pursuant to your discussion, I wrote about the activities of the “Gold Team” in my series on the Vision for Space Exploration:

            Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

            In regard to the legendary “$3 billion additional” meme, that was something cooked up by Augustine to give the administration a pretext to cancel the VSE, Project Constellation, and (they hoped) human spaceflight. It didn’t work out that way because Congress forced the administration to continue with Orion and build SLS, in spite of their resistance to that. That’s why we have a vehicle with no destination, except for the fantasy of a human Mars mission 20 years in the future (and it always will be 20 years in the future). In fact, the Augustine committee was presented with affordable, no-increase-required options to execute the VSE, but those options were not even rejected by the committee — they were completely IGNORED by them.

            Ask yourself this: if the flaws in the original Constellation architecture could have been fixed with an additional $3 billion per year, why would an administration famous for spending over a TRILLION dollars in “stimulus” money hesitate to ask for that meager additional amount for NASA? Unless there were other, unspoken motivations involved.

          • James says:

            “What might seem a simple question may not have a simple answer. How much would Ares I cost per year and per flight?

            That is one of the key questions arising from congressional hearings on President Obama’s new plan for NASA. The President wants to cancel the entire Constellation program, of which Ares I is part. He proposes replacing Ares I as a launch vehicle for taking astronauts to low Earth orbit (LEO) with commercial alternatives in part because of anticipated cost savings.”

            From: ‘How Much Would Ares I Cost?’
            By Marcia S. Smith March 26, 2010
            Updated: December 5, 2011

            “ATK proposed an advanced SRB nicknamed “Dark Knight”. This booster would switch from a steel case to one made of lighter composite material, use a more energetic propellant, and reduce the number of segments from five to four.[44] It would deliver over 20,000 kN (4,500,000 lbf) maximum thrust and weigh 790,000 kg (1,750,000 lb) at ignition. According to ATK, the advanced booster would be 40% less expensive than the Shuttle-derived five-segment SRB.”

            From: ‘Space Launch System’ at: Wikipedia

            The President ‘knew’ his ‘political friend’ Mr. Musk could someday make a ‘cheaper’ and ‘more reliable’ fast response military/commercial/NASA launcher. Pseudo science from a crystal ball is the political world’s ‘best form of partisan tactics’.

            Having a President as a ‘political friend’ is amazingly much more useful than rocket science, Lunar commercial benefits, and national security interests.

          • Joe says:

            Dr. Spudis,

            Thanks for the links, I remembered reading the articles; but was not sure where to look for them.

        • Grand Lunar says:

          “The Constellation Program of putting astronauts on the Moon was most likely cancelled by the President for trivial political reasons. Rocket science and the potential usefulness of the Moon for national security interests, commercial benefits, and science probably had zip influence on the President’s cancellation decision.”

          In a blog article made some time ago (I forget when) and in his book, Dr Spudis actually does mention reasons Obama canceled Constellation.

          Basically, it had to do with idealism that contradicted the previous science advisor that helped provide the genesis for the VSE.

          • James says:

            Grand Lunar –

            It was mainly about the flow of money and the President’s highly partisan politics, not “idealism”.

            And the main issue still is the flow of money and the President’s highly partisan politics.

            “But at Ars we’ll be watching for something much more prosaic, namely, who pays for all this?

            With regard to this question there is one telling line in the description of Musk’s talk: ‘The technical presentation will focus on potential architectures for sustaining humans on the Red Planet that industry, government and the scientific community can collaborate on in the years ahead.’ The notion of industry and government ‘collaboration’ seems a key admission that SpaceX will need substantial financial help to establish a Mars colony.”

            From: ‘Between a rocket and a hard place: Elon Musk to give the speech of his life SpaceX no doubt has some brilliant ideas about Mars. But who will pay?’
            By Eric Berger 9/22/2016

            SpaceX’s ‘partnership’ with NASA on Mars missions and a colony will continue the Elon Musk tradition of getting the taxpayers of America to subsidize high risk Martian fantasies while at the same time increasing the assets and value of his company SpaceX and ignoring the “The Value of the Moon” to reduce the risks and costs involved with developing Cislunar Space.

            Note that Cislunar Space, which includes the Moon, is a volume of space far more valuable than Mars because it surrounds that beautiful first class planet called Earth.

            The cost of continuing the high risk Mars fantasy ‘collaboration’ with Elon Musk and SpaceX will be the ongoing partisan politicization of NASA and American space policy. Nontransparent Presidential/NASA ‘deals’ would continue to be made with SpaceX that are not in America’s best national security interests. And unfortunately the Moon’s resources, opportunities, and benefits would probably be developed and enjoyed by a group of nations that won’t include America.

          • Paul Spudis says:


            Very well put. Thank you.

          • Joe says:


            Good catch on the article.

            Interesting that the author who has been very much a SpaceX groupie is showing some signs of skepticism.

            Then, however, he closes with:

            (a) during the next five years Musk might fly his Red Dragons to Mars.
            (b) He might continue to develop and test the Raptor engines that would power his next-generation rocket. (c) He could make reusable rocketry a reality.
            (d) He could fly commercial crew missions safely and demonstrate his reliability with US astronauts.
            (e) He could continue do all of this at a fraction of the cost of similar government programs.

            “If he does this, a commercial pathway to Mars, offered by SpaceX at a cost of $50 billion to $100 billion might have some credibility with a future president and Congress. And if NASA doesn’t buy it, perhaps another foreign government might.”

            That is quite a laundry list of accomplishments for the next five years (maybe Musk will solve the problem of controlled Nuclear Fusion in the next five years – but probably not).

            Then (of course) the implied threat that it the US does not give Musk the money some other country might.

            The idea that some other country might control Cis-Lunar Space is credible as a threat. The idea that another country might bank roll a Mars Colony (even if successful) is not.

          • James says:

            On the international level most folks aren’t impressed with the Musk-Obama high risk Mars Colony Now political machine that expects to continue funneling large amounts of American taxpayer money into SpaceX.

            “It is more a necessity than a desire, Crawford says. Before we head to Mars – or any other faraway body – humans must learn how to thrive in dusty, high radiation environments. ‘To send people to Mars you have to be very confident in all aspects of the technology,’ he says. ‘Going to the moon is risky too, but the advantage of learning and trialling all this stuff on the moon is that if something goes wrong, you can bring people back. The moon is only three days away. Abort options exist.’”

            From: ‘Is a moon village the next step for space exploration?
            ESA’s chief thinks so
            Could an outpost on the moon be the next logical step towards the know-how and infrastructure we need to head into the farther reaches of the solar system?’
            By Ian Sample Science editor

            A billionaire or group of billionaires can buy a President’s space policy and some folks in Congress, but trying to buy off and control the world’s political, commercial, scientific, space, and media leaders is highly difficult.


            Well for one reason, what is ‘good’ for SpaceX probably isn’t good for the national high tech space programs, aerospace companies, and skilled workers of other countries.

            Currently, it appears America’s space program is illogically diverging from the logical and pragmatic Lunar resource tapping goals of most other national space programs.

            Space is a harsh environment. Geopolitical leadership on Earth is an even harsher reality checking environment, and history is littered with examples of incompetent and corrupt leaders.

            America cannot lead the international commercial, high tech, and science communities on a risky and costly wild goose chase to Mars if most nations wisely decide it is in their best economic and national political interests to focus on tapping Lunar resources and commercial opportunities.

            Folks around the world understand how fickle America’s attention and funding for space goals can be.

            We Americans once went to the nearby Moon within a decade of making that costly decision to do so and then quickly quit going to the Moon and destroyed much of our Lunar mission capabilities and space dreams.

            Other countries and their aerospace companies lack the financial depth or resources to foolishly follow America in a risky and costly Musk driven Mars Colony mania that could quickly dissipate when astronauts start to die and costs escalate.

            The pragmatic space science, technology, commercial, and political leaders of the broader world will eventually coalesce into mainly supporting policies and short and long-term Moon resources centered Cislunar Space goals that reduce human spaceflight risks and costs and don’t need the support of America and NASA’s Musk Mars Colony Now driven illogical agenda.

            NASA following a fickle high risk and costly Musk driven Mars Colony Now space program means de facto and de jure that America is headed towards giving up its leadership in Cislunar Space.

            And if NASA cannot lead in Cislunar Space by helping to identify and develop the Moon’s diverse resources and opportunities, America’s leadership on our Home Planet, and Mars, will become increasingly dubious, tenuous, costly, and politically unsustainable.

      • Grand Lunar says:

        Musk apparently doesn’t care about the most basic aspect of spaceflight: Every gram counts!

        As you mentioned earlier, people will take any failure by Musk as a sign of a conspiracy.

  5. guest666666 says:

    I think there is one universal truth and that is that NASAs budget is flat and not increasing. So human spaceflight has been costing about $3billion for Shuttle, and $3billion for ISS for the last 30 years. Ares 1 +Orion was going to cost $3billion. That money was going to come from shutting down Shuttle. Despite the fact that Shuttle offered a logical way into and back from cislunar space and capabilities in orbit, the first mission was accomplished, Shuttle was shut down. Ares 5 was going to cost another $3billion. The money for it was going to come from shutting down ISS by 2016. At the time ISS was still in construction. A lander was going to be another $3billion. So by increasing NASAs budget by only $3billion a year, we could reestablish Apollo. We would be left with no cislunar infrastructure to speak of and no way to learn anything about operating internationally, dealing with radiation….
    The Griffin architecture was never supportable.

    The real problem in my view is lack of competent NASA leadership. That was true with Griffin and it is still true today. There is a reason why ISS remains at $3 billion a year despite no longer being in development or in construction-too large an organization, too many fiefdoms within the program, too many people. The program is not focused on operating with an austere budget-just the opposite; far too many competing fiefdoms inside of the program; its the same reason they cannot fly payloads efficiently or effectively. All the fiefdoms are competing to maintain their piece of the budget and no one is in charge. Of course if the real goal is simply $3billion to spend on jobs, then leadership is meeting expectations.

  6. James says:

    guest666666 –

    “The real problem in my view is lack of competent NASA leadership. That was true with Griffin and it is still true today. ”

    Current NASA management leaders are cheerleaders that ignore risks and cheer loudly for whatever nonscientific space program the President decides on until there is a catastrophe.

    The real issue is a President who requires sycophancy in support of his illogical and highly partisan human spaceflight policies.

    “There is no way to dilute the events Sep. 1, 2016 into something less than catastrophic, and not just for SpaceX but for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program itself. Because, after Thursday, September 1, NASA’s bet on Commercial Crew in general, and in SpaceX in particular, was challenged not just programmatically but technically. What remains to be seen is whether or not, and how fast, the Commercial Crew program (CPP) and SpaceX recover, something that will take not days or weeks, but months to determine.”

    From: ‘Perspectives After The Fire: Long Road Ahead for SpaceX and NASA’s Commercial Crew Program’ By Jim Hillhouse September 23rd, 2016

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