Mankind Beyond Earth: The History, Science, and Future of Human Space Exploration by Claude A. Piantadosi MD, a Professor of Medicine and Pathology at Duke University Medical School is a technical look at the current understanding of many of the limitations and consequences of human physiology with regards to spaceflight. Aside from the technical discussion of the past and present, Dr. Piantadosi also explains his views on where human spaceflight can and should take us in the future.
This writer previously reviewed Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars, which covers a similar topic area. Packing for Mars can be considered an introductory level text and Mankind Beyond Earth is for a more advanced level for those wanting a deeper scientific discussion with more up to date references and quantitative data. A fairly strong background in biology or medicine would be helpful in understanding many of the concepts in order to not be overwhelmed by the level of technical detail in some sections. Some of the complexity might be because the book is based off of a course titled Physiology and Medicine of Extreme Environments that Dr. Piantadosi teaches at Duke.
Throughout the book the author relates asides and thoughts from colleagues, some named and other anonymous (particularly a witty fellow named “Q”), who are experts in the many diverse fields that are needed for a full understanding of what the human body goes through in a trip beyond Earth’s atmosphere.
The book is composed of three major sections. The first, a retrospective view of the biomedical results of human spaceflight and exploration. The second, current understanding of the issues of human spaceflight including radiation and musculoskeletal effects, and resource utilization techniques and concepts. And the third, how the past and present inform the future and what knowledge and technologies would be helpful for long distance exploration of our neighbor Mars to the outer planets and other star systems.
More info and to purchase directly from Columbia University Press: Mankind Beyond Earth: The History, Science, and Future of Human Space Exploration