Mankind Beyond Earth

The History, Science, and Future of Human Space Exploration

Claude A. Piantadosi

Columbia University Press

Mankind Beyond Earth

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Pub Date: January 2015

ISBN: 9780231162432

336 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $28.00£24.00

Pub Date: January 2013

ISBN: 9780231162425

336 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $80.00£67.00

Pub Date: January 2013

ISBN: 9780231531030

336 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $27.99£24.00

Mankind Beyond Earth

The History, Science, and Future of Human Space Exploration

Claude A. Piantadosi

Columbia University Press

Seeking to reenergize Americans' passion for the space program, the value of further exploration of the Moon, and the importance of human beings on the final frontier, Claude A. Piantadosi presents a rich history of American space exploration and its major achievements. He emphasizes the importance of reclaiming national command of our manned program and continuing our unmanned space missions, and he stresses the many adventures that still await us in the unfolding universe. Acknowledging space exploration's practical and financial obstacles, Piantadosi challenges us to revitalize American leadership in space exploration in order to reap its scientific bounty.

Piantadosi explains why space exploration, a captivating story of ambition, invention, and discovery, is also increasingly difficult and why space experts always seem to disagree. He argues that the future of the space program requires merging the practicalities of exploration with the constraints of human biology. Space science deals with the unknown, and the margin (and budget) for error is small. Lethal near-vacuum conditions, deadly cosmic radiation, microgravity, vast distances, and highly scattered resources remain immense physical problems. To forge ahead, America needs to develop affordable space transportation and flexible exploration strategies based in sound science. Piantadosi closes with suggestions for accomplishing these goals, combining his healthy skepticism as a scientist with an unshakable belief in space's untapped—and wholly worthwhile—potential.

A whole generation has grown up with tales of the glory of man's excursion into space, and this fact-filled and stimulating book ties the story together and extends it to further exploration of the Moon again and Mars.

Bruce D. Butler, University of Texas Medical School at Houston

Mankind Beyond Earth offers a wide-ranging analysis of the challenges facing human space exploration. Using examples from polar expeditions, aviation history, undersea voyages, and space missions, Claude A. Piantadosi shows that exploration is unforgiving to those who fail to plan. Piantadosi details the barriers that must be surmounted for humans to leave Earth for long voyages. He supports his case with information from diverse disciplines, including microbiology, radiation physics, botany, astronomy, and physiology. He also makes a strong argument for the United States to refocus on exploring the Moon and to use Moon exploration both for scientific discovery and as preparation for longer trips to Mars.

Jay C. Buckey MD, former payload-specialist astronaut, professor of medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth

An important book by a visionary with his feet planted on the ground.

Kirkus Reviews

Finally, a give-it-to-me-straight account of why space exploration matters. In Mankind Beyond Earth, Claude A. Piantadosi folds together science, politics, and culture to demonstrate why a civilization without a spacefaring future is doomed to extinction.

Neil Degrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, American Museum of Natural History, author of Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier

In this engaging book, Claude A. Piantadosi presents a concise and accurate history of how our nation's space program arrived at its current uncertain juncture, supplementing it with powerful insights into a wide range of fields, from planetary science to human physiology. This is a compelling work from a scientist committed to expanding the human exploration of our universe.

Michael L. Gernhardt, NASA astronaut, manager of the Environmental Physiology Laboratory at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center

Recommended for readers intrigued by the real-life requirements of space exploration.

Library Journal

This nicely written volume will appeal to the general public and space enthusiasts who want to learn about the hazards of human space exploration.


Piantadosi's goal throughout the book is to explain to the lay audience why spaceexploration is difficult and important. He achieves this first goal in a clear manner,very accessible to someone without a technical background.

Lisa Messeri, MetaScience

Piantadosi assembles and presents the best of the vast amount of information we have accumulated… it will kindle in many a sense of excitement for some of the great adventures still awaiting us as a nation.
A Short Introduction to the Science of Space Exploration
Part 1: Hindsight and Foresight
1. Men and Machines
2. A Space Lexicon
3. The Explorers
4. Twentieth-Century Space
5. Back to the Moon
Part 2: A Home Away from Home
6. Living off the Land
7. Round and Round It Goes . . . Where It Stops
8. By Force of Gravity
9. The Cosmic Ray Dilemma
10. Tiny Bubbles
Part 3: Where Are We Going?
11. The Case for Mars
12. Big Planets
13. New Stars
Bibliography and Additional Reading

Read the chapter, "The Case for Mars" (to view in full screen, click on icon in bottom right-hand corner)

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About the Author

Claude A. Piantadosi MD is professor and director of the F. G. Hall Environmental Laboratory at Duke University. Educated at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, he trained in undersea medicine and saturation diving in the U.S. Navy and in respiratory physiology and pulmonary medicine at Duke. He spent thirty years as a resource consultant to NASA. He is an author of more than three hundred scientific papers and The Biology of Human Survival: Life and Death in Extreme Environments.