Elon Musk and the Future of Space Travel February 17, 2018 – Posted in: Book News

Earlier this month our attention turned skyward as the world’s most powerful new space rocket blasted into the heavens above Florida’s east coast.

The launch marked an historic day in the history of space exploration,  with NASA saying the success of the Falcon Heavy paves the way for open access to space beyond Earth!  But this is just the start of what could prove to be an epic year for the company behind the rocket, SpaceX and CEO Elon Musk, who has grand ambitions for far-reaching space travel.

Elon Musk gave amazed onlookers something else to talk about as well, as four minutes into the flight the nose cone of the rocket broke apart to reveal a cherry-red electric sports car, which was launched into space with the top down and a dummy astronaut in the driving position.  A livestream from the car showed amazing, surreal views of the car and its sole passer floating peacefully above the Earth, and gave us some insight into the personality of the guy who put it there because it was “silly and fun”.

Elon Musk is undoubtedly one of the greatest entrepreneurs and inventors of our time. He has cornered private space flight and the electric car industry, ventured into solar energy and artificial intelligence, and promised super-high speed magnetic train travel, in a tube, underground. Oh, and he plans to colonise Mars….  His childhood story, growing up in South-Africa, is fascinating as well and his biography Elon Musk and the Quest for a Fantastic Future has recently been abridged into a book for young readers.  I’d say probably best for 9-12 year olds.

Written with exclusive access to Elon, his family, and his friends, this book traces Elon’s journey from a child in South Africa to a young man in the United States, his dramatic technical inventions, and his world-changing companies. Elon has sparked new levels of innovation in the world, and this book gives young readers a detailed but fast-paced look at his inspirational story.

For young scientists, inventors or astrophysicists, fascinated, like Elon, by all things space-related, there are plenty of other excellent books for children on space and the future of space travel.

Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover is a fabulous picture book, perfect for about 6 years+, that leads nicely into discussions of recent developments in the exploration of Mars.  In August 2012, Nasa succeeded in landing the Curiosity rover (a cart-sized robot vehicle) safely on the surface of Mars.  Part of Curiosity’s mission is to investigate the make up and behavior of the Martian climate and geology and, most importantly, establish if there is any water present on the planet; begging the question – could Mars be suitable for human habitation?

On the 5th of August 2017, NASA celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Curiosity rover landing and related exploratory accomplishments on the planet Mars.  To celebrate Markus Motum has created this wonderful book, in which the Curiosity rover tells his own story.  Curiosity talks directly to you, the reader, and takes you on the journey around Mars with him. Along the way Curiosity explains about space travel and the development of space exploration, especially of the rover series. We also learn about the labs on Earth, the experiments they are doing and the Kennedy Space Centre.

Help kids train for their own mission to Mars in this fun and informative activity book!  In Astronaut Academy young readers will not only find out about but can also train for their own missions. Once enrolled at the academy, they face a variety of challenges and missions that mimic the real-life tasks astronauts may have to perform in space. Specific activities include hand-eye coordination exercises, obstacle courses, building a balloon rocket, basic first-aid skills, how to deal with weightlessness, and doing fiddly things while wearing big gloves!

A jam-packed Space Goodies section includes stickers, a poster, board game, press-outs, and a model space shuttle. Great for about 7 years+.

How To Be a Space Explorer is a ‘must-have’ for wanna-be astronauts, with incredible stories of real-life space exploration.  It has everything young explorers needs to know to travel in space, covering what life in zero gravity is like, how to find your way around the solar system, and the all-important question of how to pee in a spacesuit!  Unique illustrations take kids to the heart of the action and amazing photos show what the universe is really like. Best for about 8 years+.

Travel to the edge of our universe in hilarious style with comedian and Stargazing host Dara Ó Briain.  Dara loves the unusual, the quirky, the absurd – and this is clearly demonstrated in his first children’s book, Beyond The Sky, about the weird and wonderful world of space.

Did you know, for instance, that the European country astronauts always recognised at night was Belgium, because it had a law that every road must be lit at night?  Or that Russian astronauts had a superstition which meant they used to wriggle out of their spacesuits and wee on their transfer bus tyres before boarding their rockets?  These, and a host of other interesting facts about space, planets, astronauts and the stars, are featured in this fun, fascinating book.

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