Commercial spaceflight at a price

Commercialization of space has been the buzz topic of the international aerospace community for at least the past decade, yet surprisingly few comprehensive reference guides exist on the subject. This (expensive) book is one of them.

’Space-Based Technologies and Commercialized Development’ is an excellent, up-to-date reference book detailing the major recent developments in the commercialization of space. The book covers a wide range of topics, from commercial lunar bases and space tourism to the commercialization of space stations. In addition to recent developments in commercial space, the author, Stella Tkatchova, includes historical references that put the issues into context. Also noteworthy, the book contains particular space reference data, like statistical or finance-related information, which is notoriously difficult to come by in the competitive aerospace world.

The book is structured like a textbook, although when reading it, I never really had the feeling that it was one. The information presented isn’t a solid monotonous body of facts, as often occurs in reference books, but is rather peppered with stories and historical anecdotes to keep the reader engaged and focused on the subject.

Highlights include a summary of the new U.S. space strategy, including the COTS program, an overview of commercial space launches, and chapters on space industry market trends and emerging markets. My personal favorite was the chapter on the commercialization of space stations, which gave a good example of how governments tend to fail at space business. So, it’s a good read for staying up-to-date on recent commercial spaceflight developments, and also good for getting an overview of the commercial space industry, for those new to the subject. In short, the book is suitable for a broad audience, easy to read, and present the big picture of the commercialization of spaceflight.

The book is by no means perfect, however. The text is heavily peppered with italicized words, which at times serve to highlight keywords, while at others seems unnecessary and simply distracting. The style is a bit inconsistent and not all of the figures are clearly legible or labeled.

The real downside of this book is the price. At around 150 euros for 260 pages of text, it is far from being affordable. Additionally, being a reference book for the quickly-evolving sphere of commercial spaceflight, it is a book that must be continuously updated in order to remain a relevant and useful source of information.

Overall, this book should appeal to a wide audience of space professionals and enthusiasts, alike. However, owing to the price, I would not recommend that students purchase this book. Instead, it is definitely worth requesting at your library, especially since it can be easily read in a matter of days.

Stella Tkatchova, ‘Space-Based Technologies and Commercialized Development: Economic Implications and Benefits’, RHEA System S.A., Belgium, 260 pages, €150.

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