Beyond: Our Future in Space (2016) by Chris Impey is a very readable account of the history of space travel and is what is possible in the near and further future. Impey is a professor of Astronomy and so has a great grasp of the science of space and space travel. It has an optimistic and informative take on what’s currently happening in space travel. Interwoven with the facts is the tale of a future space traveller. The book comes at a time when space travel is being reinvigorated by private companies like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic.
The book is divided into four parts looking at past, present, near future and far future. The past section goes through the history of rocketry, the space race and the recent past. The current section looks at the entrepreneurs who are radically changing space travel and what governments are doing now. The future section looks at what’s coming in the near future and how the long term future of space travel might look. The far future section looks at how interstellar travel might work. Each section starts with a fictional account of space travel in the far future. This is OK but isn’t really needed and is a bit odd.
The book references ‘The High Frontier’ Gerard K O’Neil and ‘Project Orion’ by George Dyson that are both books that are fascinating for anyone who is interested in physically plausible space exploration. O’Neils arguments for space stations rather than settlements on planets are not really addressed. The book is really good in the history sections and is also good on looking at fuel requirements and plausible propulsion systems for space travel. The book also has an odd section pondering if our lives are in fact simulations.
Beyond is an enjoyable read and is a great book for anyone interested in physically possible space exploration. If you really knew the topic little would presumably be new but for a layman like me it had lots of new facts and interesting ways to think about space travel.