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Publisher's Summary

The International Space Station (ISS) is the largest man-made structure to orbit Earth and has been conducting research for close to a decade and a half. Yet it is only the latest in a long line of space stations and laboratories that have flown in orbit since the early 1970's. The histories of these earlier programs have been all but forgotten as the public focused on other, higher-profile adventures such as the Apollo moon landings.

Outposts on the Frontier reveals how the Soviets and the Americans combined strengths to build space stations over the past 50 years. At the heart of these scientific advances are people of both greatness and modesty. Jay Chladek documents the historical tapestry of the people, the early attempts at space station programs, and how astronauts and engineers have contributed to and shaped the ISS in surprising ways.

Outposts on the Frontier delves into the intriguing stories behind the USAF Manned Orbiting Laboratory, the Almaz and Salyut programs, Skylab, the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, Spacelab, Mir station, Spacehab, and the ISS and gives past-due attention to Vladimir Chelomei, the Russian designer whose influence in space station development is as significant as Sergei Korolev’s in rocketry. Outposts on the Frontier is an informative and dynamic history of humankind’s first outposts on the frontier of space.

The book is published by University of Nebraska Press. The audiobook is published by University Press Audiobooks.

©2017 Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska (P)2020 Redwood Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"Chladek expertly brings to life the stunning successes and tragic failures of space exploration in this worthy addition to science, history, and space collections." (Booklist

"A notable achievement and an important book." (H-War)

“A well-researched and authoritative book on the global history of space stations...” (Manfred von Ehrenfried, NASA flight controller, 1961-68) 

What listeners say about Outposts on the Frontier: A Fifty-Year History of Space Stations

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Good, but not great

I like that there is a book about humanity’s space stations, and this one does cover all the stations hat for built and those that just got cancelled along the way. The book also benefits from time since books like “Dragonfly” and so it gives time for people to give their side to widely shared space anecdotes. But, I had some issues with this book - both the text and narration. The book has a heavy astronaut focus (who came and went, when they did it, previous careers, where they went to high school etc.), while much less effort is given to the space stations themselves or what they were doing there. Almost no effort is given to the engineers who designed/built the stations, the controllers who operate them, or the scientists that have experiments there. Next, it keeps everything at somewhat of a surface level without trying to draw many lessons or principles out of the various experiences. Some effort is given to describe a particular space station or space suit, but there’s not much discussion about how ideas evolved from ship to ship, station to station or method to method. Why does a space station look the way it does? How does form follow function? Next, there are factual errors that I noticed, and I’m sure there are more that I didn’t. The book says both Mark and Scott Kelly graduated from “the Naval Academy” in the same year. None of that statement is true. Mark graduated from the Merchant Marine Academy in ‘86 and Scott graduated from the New York Maritime College in ‘87. Neither of those is Annapolis. Finally, the narrator added some “issues”. Words and acronyms have some weird pronunciations. The European Space Agency (ESA) is oddly pronounced “eh-sa” instead of the normal “ee-sa” throughout the book. Other words and acronyms are said weird or spelled out. TDRS (Tracking and Data Relay Satellite) is said “t d r s” instead of the customary “tee-dress”. As a space fan, I’m glad Chladek covered the topic, but there’s more to expound upon.

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Fantastic Overview

I caught the space but back last year and since have been going though all the space biographies and histories. This book is a great timeline for the world's space programs and I learned some great new stories.