Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

THE CONSEQUENTIAL FRONTIER: Challenging the Privatization of Space by Peter Ward review

THE CONSEQUENTIAL FRONTIER: Challenging the Privatization of Space by Peter Ward review
21 Nov
by Peter Ward • Melville House • £25 (hardback)

Journalist Peter Ward is clearly a space enthusiast. For him, the prospect of a colony on the Moon or Mars is not a foolish one and he makes clear in his introduction that he does not subscribe to the argument most commonly espoused by critics of space exploration: that humans should solve Earthbound problems before launching into the cosmos. Nevertheless, he is both excited and alarmed.

Stay connected with the Geographical newsletter!
signup buttonIn these turbulent times, we’re committed to telling expansive stories from across the globe, highlighting the everyday lives of normal but extraordinary people. Stay informed and engaged with Geographical.

Get Geographical’s latest news delivered straight to your inbox every Friday!

The Consequential Frontier is split into three sections – the past, the present and the future. The first two provide a thorough account of the history of space exploration to date and a full and fascinating run-down of the key companies and businessmen (and they’re all men) working in the industry. It’s the third part where Ward makes his fears known.

From the prospect of rogue scientists genetically engineering humans more capable of surviving in space, to the huge swarms of space debris that might be spawned as thousands of private satellites smash into each other, he is not afraid of presenting a future which, if left unchecked, is terrifying. Add to this the prospect of rampant capitalists controlling colonies on Mars and unscrupulous engineers mining the Moon for all the water it’s worth, and the picture, he claims, is neither a happy or unrealistic one. Only one international treaty, created 50 years ago, currently governs commercial activity in space and Ward is in no doubt that it’s insufficient.

On the other hand, he seems remarkably optimistic. Given the fact that every commercial endeavour to date seems to be running years, if not decades off schedule, Ward’s assertion that ‘humans will land on Mars relatively soon’ and ‘a colony will follow’ might seem like wishful thinking. So too might his assertion that the ‘goals of major players, like Elon Musk, appear to be well-intentioned and true’. But, luckily, you don’t need to agree with Ward to find this book interesting.

Click here to order The Consequential Frontier via Amazon

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox by signing up to our weekly newsletter and get a free collection of eBooks!

geo line break v3

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...


Your monthly dose of recommended nonfiction reads for June


by Jemma Wadham • Allen Lane


Read on for all of Geographical’s May book reviews


by Helen Scales • Bloomsbury


Photographer Claudia Andujar has spent 50 years documenting the lives…


There's something fresh for everyone this April. Read on for…


by Lesley Newson & Peter Richerson • Oxford University Press