© 2017

The Politics and Perils of Space Exploration

Who Will Compete, Who Will Dominate?

  • Written by a graduate from NASA Langley Research Center, this book offers a complete overview of all of NASA's next steps in space, including how future space exploration is to be funded and how space tourism is to be regulated

  • Summarizes future space exploration plans in development both in the US and abroad, including the increased shift to space privatization as changes in NASA's mission bring it into partnership with commercial space companies

  • Considers the U.S. political climate regarding its tolerance for risk in space travel and whether the US will continue to invest in the space arena, as the SpaceShip Two crash illustrates why mistakes become deadly


Part of the Springer Praxis Books book series (PRAXIS)

Also part of the Space Exploration book sub series (SPACEE)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xx
  2. Linda Dawson
    Pages 1-24
  3. Linda Dawson
    Pages 25-40
  4. Linda Dawson
    Pages 41-69
  5. Linda Dawson
    Pages 71-80
  6. Linda Dawson
    Pages 81-106
  7. Linda Dawson
    Pages 107-126
  8. Linda Dawson
    Pages 127-152
  9. Linda Dawson
    Pages 153-161
  10. Linda Dawson
    Pages 163-177
  11. Linda Dawson
    Pages 179-194
  12. Back Matter
    Pages 195-199

About this book


Written by a former Aerodynamics Officer on the space shuttle program, this book provides a complete overview of the “new” U. S. space program, which has changed considerably over the past 50 years.The future of space exploration has become increasingly dependent on other countries and private enterprise. 

Can private enterprise fill NASA's shoes and provide the same expertise, safety measures and lessons learned?

In order to tell this story, it is important to understand the politics of space as well as the dangers, why it is so difficult to explore and utilize the resources of space. Some past and recent triumphs and failures will be discussed, pointing the way to a successful space policy that includes taking risks but also learning how to mitigate them. 


Antares Rocket Explosion Companies ESA Accomplishments and Plans NASA Funding Decline NASA Plans for ISS Resupply New Commercial Space Companies New NASA Space Programs Risks of Space Travel Rocket Technology Development SpaceShipTwo Explosion US Government Contracts Commercial space

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Interdisciplinary Arts and SciencesUniversity of WashingtonTacomaUSA

About the authors

Linda Dawson received her BS in Engineering Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT and a Engineering Aeronautics and Astronautics MS from George Washington University at NASA Langley Research Center. She is a Senior Lecturer in Physical Science and Statistics at the University of Washington, Tacoma. Dawson served as Aerodynamics Officer for the Mission Control Center Ascent and Entry Flight Control Teams during the first space shuttle mission. During orbital phases, she served as an advisor on the impact of system failures on the orbiter's re-entry trajectory and configuration. From re-entry through touchdown, she was responsible for monitoring the orbiter's stability and control, advising the crew of any necessary corrective actions. Additionally, she serves on the Education Committee and the Space Committee for the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

Bibliographic information

Industry Sectors


“A main idea Dawson (Univ. of Washington, Tacoma) explores is that space exploration is important not only to further develop science and technology, but also to ‘gain political power.’ … Dawson commences with the present day and fills in the history as it relates to the topic of the chapter. Each chapter also begins with a list of the key words indexed within it. … Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above; faculty and professionals.” (R. I. Saltz, Choice, Vol. 57 (11), July, 2017)

“Astonishingly, Linda Dawson was able to compile all this voluminous information on only 195 pages, including all the appropriate high-resolution images, many spectacular ones as they were published worldwide during the particular events. … The book is highly recommended for decision makers, but also for taxpayers to judge and understand what ‘their money’ achieved with respect to space exploration, and to keep track of the very complex and difficult decisions we will have to make for our global future.” (Joachim J. Kehr, Journal of Space Operations & Communicator,, Issue 14, 2017)