SSI Associate Reviews

Read a  good book lately?  Watched a good video on family documentary night?  Your fellow SSI Associates want to hear your recommendations!

Right down this page there are two new reviews to get things started and we encourage you to add to the list.

The only criteria is to spot the way that a book or video relates to SSI’s goal of enabling The Human Breakout Into Space.

That may mean a direct tie to “O’Neill Colonies” or Glaser/Brown Powerbeaming Satellites or to another SSI program such as simulated gravity effects on vertebrates (G-Lab) or closed loop life cycle research (E-Lab).  But it might also be a resource that has some indirect relation that you’ve spotted, such as a book on welding that mentions a vacuum environment  or on plumbing that considers the special needs of a spinning chamber.

When you really think about it, pretty much every reference to every tradecraft that humans have ever practiced on Earth will be important in an SSI O’Neill Colony.  In fact, every individual job will be even more important because a mistake on Earth can be lived with, but up there a temporary pup tent or trip to the grocery for bottled water isn’t an easy option.

There’s a link to Island Living nearly everywhere.  For a review here, you just have to spot that link and tell us how the book or video shows it.

What about Fiction?  Absolutely, if you can show an SSI relation.  Ben Bova’s Colony is a no-brainer and we’d all love to see an SSI review of it, Neal Stephenson’s SEVENEVES has O’Neill Colonies, have you read that one? Tell us what you thought of their ability to make it seem real.  Did they “get it right”?  Did they miss something?  Did it inspire?

Fundamentally, if you’ve seen or read something that you think others at SSI should know about… tell us via

And now, with thanks to Senior Associates John Jossy and Robert Sugg, it begins…


The Value of the Moon
by Paul Spudis
Reviewed by SSI SA John Jossy

Paul Spudis presents a convincing case for returning to our natural satellite in his outstanding book “The Value of the Moon; How to Explore, Live and Prosper in Space Using the Moon’s Resources”.  Spudis is a geologist and Senior Staff scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston Texas, so he knows his stuff.  The book is well written and researched with extensive references.

After a brief history of humanity’s fits and starts attempting to return to the moon, Spudis lays out the value proposition for why the moon should be our next destination in space.  There are three primary reasons it makes sense to go back.  Proximity, scientific worth and useful resources.

The closeness argument is a no brainer.  Should anything go wrong during operations on the moon its only 3 days away.  Radio transmissions take only three second round trips and launch windows are abundant.

Next, the moon is an interesting destination for scientific research.  The geological processes and solar wind record in the lunar regolith provide a rich vein of knowledge just waiting to be mined on the history of the solar system.  Of course, the far side has been recognized for many years as an ideal location for a radio astronomy.  Finally, the lunar environment is a perfect space-based laboratory providing hard vacuum, temperature extremes and low gravity conditions for experimentation of physical and biological phenomenon that need to be understood for operations on the moon.

Finally, Spudis gives a very detailed account of the moon’s valuable energy and material resources, the exploitation of which would enable humanity’s spacefaring capability.  Lunar regolith can be refined into construction materials used for thermal and radiation shielding obviating the need to transport materials from earth, thus lowering the cost of lunar settlement.

Of course the holy grail is the water ice and unlimited solar energy present at the lunar Poles, which is where most of the value in the moon resides.  Spudis, as deputy leader of the science team of the Clementine mission, dedicates several pages to their landmark discovery of the likely presence of frozen water deposits at the south lunar pole in 1994.  Yet he only introduces the follow-on SSI supported Lunar Prospector (LP) spacecraft which confirmed the presence of water in one paragraph as the first of NASA’s low cost Discovery missions, which he says was due to “renewed interest” in the Moon because of Clementine.  Spudis had to pack much research into the case for returning to the Moon, so unfortunately, he didn’t have room to mention LP’s history and quite frankly, this was not germane to the scope of the book.  So sadly, there was no mention of the early conceptual work on LP coming out of NSS’s early advocacy efforts and SSI’s grass roots and financial support in the eighties, well before the Clementine results.

The principal investigator of LP, Alan Binder, published a book called “Lunar Prospector Against All Odds”, that documents the story of Lunar Prospector including all of the O’Neill and SSI letters and documents.

In addition, a good history of the support from other space advocates and SSI is available on line here:

Of course a lot more information about LP and research on in situ utilization of lunar resources can be found in the archived newsletters of SSI, which has been chronicling studies on the value of the Moon for decades.

To be fair, the lack of LPs background is a minor detail that can be overlooked considering the compelling rationale Spudis’ elegantly articulates for a cis-lunar infrastructure.  In the remaining chapters he lays out a very detailed plan for a return to the moon to unlock and profit from its valuable resources.  This book would be a valuable addition to the bookshelves of all space advocates.

[The Value of the Moon: How to Explore, Live, and Prosper in Space Using the Moon’s Resources by Paul Spudis can be found on by clicking here]


Mars Close to Home: The Case For a Mars Simulation in Earth Orbit
by Gerald W. Driggers
Reviewed by SSI SA Robert Sugg

No matter who does what in space going forward, if it involves humans for extended periods, an understanding of variable gravity’s effects on humans and plant and animal life will be required.

Mr. Driggers  lays out the argument for a rotating environmental research facility in Earth orbit to simulate Mars working conditions (0.38g), lunar working conditions (.16g), and O’Neill free-space habitat working conditions (up to 1g).  Such a facility is not possible on the ground and a bit moot if the rich and impatient throw all in for another planet without such grounding.

No one knows, for example, if human or animal conception and gestation is even possible at less than 1g.

Scott Kelly’s debilitating year in microgravity aboard ISS proves the need for a TESS (Test, Evaluation, and Simulation Station) in low orbit capable of 0-4 rpm to provide centrifugal gravity gradients from 0 to 1g. Driggers logically describes and illustrates such a station in the book.

While NASA has forgone a centrifuge on ISS on the basis of cost (politics) and Elon Musk has, since the book was written, rolled out a “plan” to haul the masses to a 0.38g rusted rock without one, Driggers calmly and firmly stands on the call for TESS.

For those of us non-scientists and non-engineers who were kids when we saw the film “2001: A Space Odyssey”, we knew intuitively, thanks to Kubrick, that rotation was necessary to make space work for us. Wernher von Braun knew it well.

Mars Close to Home by Gerald Driggers, to buy it on, click here.


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Technology for Human Space Settlement