Reviewed by: Casey Suire
Title: Rise of the Space Age Millennials: The Space Aspirations of a Rising Generation
Author: Laura Forczyk
NSS Amazon link for this book
Date: January, 2020
Retail Price: $17.99/$9.99
As the title implies, Rise of the Space Age Millennials: The Space Aspirations of a Rising Generation chronicles the careers, ambitions, and opinions of several young space professionals born in the last two decades of the 20th century.
The book’s author belongs to this group. She also has a solid background that includes owning a space consulting firm and doctoral work in planetary science at the University of Central Florida. This, along with other impressive credentials, makes her book worth reading.
Rise of the Space Age Millennials is the product of many interviews conducted between the author and over 100 young members of the space workforce. Generally, those interviewed live in the United States, but a few come from other countries. Each chapter is centered on a specific question regarding the participant’s views on spaceflight, work habits, and their generation vs previous ones. The book predominantly consists of a list of one paragraph responses to each question. The author herself shares her own views on each chapter’s topic.
After reading the book, a few interesting observations stand out. First is the question of what inspires and motivates newer space employees. Like older generations (and most likely generations in the future), Apollo and the space race of the 1960s led many to pursue a career in space. For others, that spark was either the Space Shuttle or an interplanetary robotic mission.
Overall, however, the most popular inspiration was commercial spaceflight. SpaceX, with their many accomplishments over the last few years, was the most frequently mentioned company. Others such as Boeing, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic were also cited as sources of admiration. NASA’s increasing partnerships with private industry drew praise as well.
The motives for working in the space industry were very noteworthy. Unlike in the Sixties, politics and national prestige mean very little. Making huge sums of money, at best, is a secondary interest to those interviewed. Rather, most do it because they believe in their work. In one of the best quotes in the book, it is noted that “some conclude that to make the world a better place, we need to go off-world.”
Another observation from the book is that new space professionals perhaps have a lot more opportunities than many older space veterans. The current young space workforce was born at just the right time to be a part of, some would say, the beginning of a second space age. The list of new spacecraft, rockets, and programs is very long and interesting: Starship, Starlink, Starliner, SLS, Orion, Artemis, Project Kuiper, New Shepard, New Glenn, Vulcan, SpaceShipTwo, Electron, and many others. Not since Apollo has there been a more thrilling time to work in the space industry!
All things considered, the most important message of the book could be that there are relatively few differences between the current space generation and past space generations. In the end, while each age group does things differently, everyone is involved because they love space. No matter what the destination is or how to achieve it, everyone wants a bright future in space. The NSS vision of “people living and working in thriving communities beyond the Earth, and the use of the vast resources of space for the dramatic betterment of humanity” is certainly in the right hands.
© 2020 Casey Suire
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Laura’s work is a call to all of us to be and remain inspired about our current space age. In reading the book, I found few people I knew personally, such that I was comforted by the vast numbers of dedicated individuals, interviewed and beyond the interviews, who are working for space is us. Thank you Laura for your comforting interviews.