The Greatest Adventure: A History of Human Space Exploration (Kosmos) (Hardcover)

The Greatest Adventure: A History of Human Space Exploration (Kosmos) By Colin Burgess Cover Image
This book is harder to get and may take several weeks if available. Please email with questions.


The Greatest Adventure explores the past, present, and future of the space race.
The space race was perhaps the greatest technological contest of the twentieth century. It was a thrilling era of innovation, discovery, and exploration, as astronauts and cosmonauts were launched on space missions of increasing length, complexity, and danger. The Greatest Adventure traces the events of this extraordinary period, describing the initial string of Soviet achievements: the first satellite in orbit; the first animal, man, and woman in space; the first spacewalk; as well as the ultimate US victory in the race to land on the moon. The book then takes the reader on a journey through the following decades of space exploration to the present time, detailing the many successes, tragedies, risks, and rewards of space exploration.

About the Author

Colin Burgess is the author or editor of many books on the military and spaceflight, including Selecting the Mercury Seven: The Search for America’s First Astronauts. He lives in Sydney, Australia.

Praise For…

"Each and every NASA mission in the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs [is] described in detail loving enough to thrill space nerds of all ages. . . . Burgess tells the subsequent tales of crewed spaceflight on both sides of the Iron Curtain with great verve, and a suspenseful narration of unheralded near-disasters. Gagarin’s spacecraft, for instance, only just avoided burning up on reentry, as did John Glenn’s Friendship 7 craft on an early Mercury mission. There’s a nail-biting story of one cosmonaut whose suit ballooned and nearly prevented him from getting back through the airlock."
— Guardian, "Book of the Week"

"From the initial string of Soviet achievements to the ultimate US victory in the race to land on the Moon, a history of space exploration, detailing its many successes, tragedies, risks and rewards."
— Bookseller

"Those well-versed in human spaceflight will find it an enjoyable read, uncovering new details that the author has packed into the book. Equally, if you are new to this topic, the book provides a wonderful overview of space exploration. . . . The Greatest Adventure provides an excellent springboard. . . . It's an all-round good read."
— BBC Sky at Night Magazine

"A splendidly nerdy history of the golden age of space flight, from the Soviets shocking the world with the launch of Sputnik I to the moon landings."
— Daily Telegraph, "Books for Christmas"

"Burgess has written over three dozen books on military, airflight, and space history, and he knows how to spin a tale. . . . If you want to revisit the drama of the Space Race, Burgess’s account is excellent."
— Los Angeles Review of Books

"Human space exploration was one of the greatest technological and scientific achievements of the 20th century. This book covers the whole history of space exploration, from Cold War origins in the US/USSR rivalry to modern-day commercialization of space by companies such as Blue Origin and Space X. . . . Recommended."
— Choice

"'Space: the final frontier.' A frontier that humanity has been consistently exploring since the invention of rockets and suborbital flight. Burgess starts his retelling of the history of space exploration exactly there, the science of rocketry. In successive chapters, the author looks at how animals were first sent to space, followed by astronauts. The first orbital flight leads the way to the first space walks, the lunar fly-bys and of course the first lunar landing. The American and Soviet/Russian space programs figure prominently in the recounting, though emerging players like China are also discussed in the later chapters. . . . The book’s narrative style and rich illustrations help paint a detailed picture of one of the greatest human adventures of all time."
— Nature Astronomy

"I liked this book. It did bring back memories and reminded me of the nail-biting excitement of the 1960s and 1970s. . . . I genuinely hope that renewed interest in reaching the Moon and Mars will generate the excitement we felt and feel that this book would give any student of space flight a good grounding of the history leading up to our latest or future adventures."
— Physics Education

"The guide to this adventure is Burgess, a long-term observer of human spaceflight and the author of many books on space exploration. . . . Well illustrated with black-and-white photos, this is a very readable account of the first six decades of humanity’s efforts to access and utilize near-Earth space, and highly recommended for anyone who is unfamiliar with the remarkable international endeavors that have opened up the final frontier."
— Observatory Magazine

“A fresh, crisp, and insightful chronicle. Burgess wings the reader through humankind’s initial, sometimes faltering, journeys into outer space; and our first footprints on another world. But these were just the start. Strap in! From these beginnings mankind personally touches the Kosmos in its Greatest Adventure.”
— Charles D. Walker, engineer, corporate executive, and first commercial industry astronaut on Space Shuttle missions STS-41D, STS-51D, and STS-61B

“Burgess has contributed to the library of space history something it has sorely lacked. When people ask what the one book is that they should read to learn about human space exploration, I now know exactly where to send them. This engaging, comprehensive history covers everything from the early days of rocketry to a new era of exploration that is dawning this very moment.”
— David Hitt, coauthor of "Homesteading Space: The Skylab Story"

“This journey through the thrilling decades of human spaceflight chronicles the highlights of exploration, with all of its triumphs and tragedies. It's an engaging read, perfect for those who have never read a space book before and want to know what humankind has accomplished out in the void.”
— Francis French, coauthor of "In the Shadow of the Moon: A Challenging Journey to Tranquility, 1965–1969"
Product Details
ISBN: 9781789144604
ISBN-10: 1789144604
Publisher: Reaktion Books
Publication Date: September 10th, 2021
Pages: 368
Series: Kosmos