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The Interstellar Age

The Story of the NASA Men and Women Who Flew the Forty-Year Voyager Mission
By: Jim Bell
Narrated by: Jim Bell
Length: 7 hrs and 44 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (55 ratings)

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Summary

The story of the men and women who drove the Voyager spacecraft mission, told by a scientist who was there from the beginning.

The Voyager spacecraft are our farthest-flung emissaries--11.3 billion miles away from the crew who built and still operate them decades after their launch.

Voyager 1 left the solar system in 2012; its sister craft, Voyager 2, will do so in 2015. The fantastic journey began in 1977, before the first episode of Cosmos aired. The mission was planned as a grand tour beyond the moon; beyond Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn; and maybe even into interstellar space. The fact that it actually happened makes this humanity's greatest space mission.

In The Interstellar Age, award-winning planetary scientist Jim Bell reveals what drove and continues to drive the members of this extraordinary team, including Ed Stone, Voyager's chief scientist and the one-time head of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab; Charley Kohlhase, an orbital dynamics engineer who helped to design many of the critical slingshot maneuvers around planets that enabled the Voyagers to travel so far; and the geologist whose earthbound experience would prove of little help in interpreting the strange new landscapes revealed in the Voyagers' astoundingly clear images of moons and planets.

Speeding through space at a mind-bending 11 miles a second, Voyager 1 is now beyond our solar system's planets. It carries with it artifacts of human civilization. By the time Voyager 1 passes its first star in about 40,000 years, the gold record on the spacecraft, containing various music and images, including Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode," will still be playable.

©2015 Jim Bell (P)2015 Penguin Audio

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I love this book.

This is a very well written book that covers a truly amazing set of missions through space, told from the perspective of someone who lived through the prime moments of those missions. The fact that the author narrates the book himself is very satisfying. The intended inflections of the voice and mentions from the first person perspective feel so much more genuine when read by the author. I hope Jim wrote more books about space related topics, I'd be happy to listen to more of his work!

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  • JoR
  • 19-03-15

Exciting, Inspiring, and interesting.

Exciting, Inspiring, and interesting! I've read SF for years... It was a lot of fun to listen to real science being done by real people, and see how SF writers could be inspired by it. I was born in 84, so most of what the Voyager missions accomplished were before my time, but the fact that we're still learning from them even today made me feel a part of the excitement and awe. Jim Bell's passion is obvious in this narrative, and him reading made it that much better. I'll be re-listening soon.

9 people found this helpful

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  • J. Walkington
  • 28-09-15

Very interesting, not too technical.

Any additional comments?

The author does a great job of explaining the subject in detail without turning the text into a rocket science technical manual. There are pieces of the personal stories which were very interesting that I wish had been expanded more but it was overall still very good. Highly recommend for anyone even remotely interested in the subject of space exploration with a personal touch.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Austin
  • 02-04-15

What a great book!

This book is exactly what it says it is. And then some. I loved hearing the stories from someone who was there, in the room when things were happening.

And it's read by the author, which I always like when there written from their point of view like this book. It's just like listening to them tell their story.

I am going to go listen to it again.

4 people found this helpful

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  • SusanM
  • 13-10-15

Great for fans of space exploration

It was a fascinating story about the Voyager missions! The book follows the Voyagers as they pass each planet, and the story captures the sense of awe with each new discovery.

The book also goes on tangents about the different planets and later space missions that would visit them, which was fascinating, but makes the story lose focus.

Overall I would recommend it to anyone interested in space exploration!

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  • Scot1T
  • 07-03-15

Great read for a kid who watched astronauts......

I liked this book a lot...I watched astronauts growing up in St.Louis as a kid, so space was always on our minds & still is...let's start exploring again!

3 people found this helpful

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  • Justin
  • 10-08-15

Wonderful personal journey through a space program

This is an outstanding account of the Voyager missions through the solar system and through the lives of the many scientists and engineers that made it all happen. I was a bit surprised by the fact that this is nearly as much an autobiography as a history of Voyager, but Jim Bell writes well enough that it did not come off as a cry for attention, and indeed gave the book a very personal feel.

I have no doubt that every large space mission has an incredible story to tell, but Voyager was so far-reaching and has done so much that it deserves this treatment more than most. I highly recommend this book, and hope to find similar books about other missions (such as the Mars rovers - hint, hint, Dr. Bell!) in the future.

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  • Ryan
  • 29-07-15

Inspiring.

Amazing hearing first hand the ups and downs of the Voyagers. Those two little guys carry a piece of all of us. Good luck Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 you each have a message to deliver.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Katherine E Watkins
  • 28-04-19

Truly an exciting an informative story.

Truly an exciting an informative story. As a high school science teacher I am often on the look-out for such an interesting portrayal of our solar system and the adventures that have been attempted within it. Great job.

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  • David
  • 29-03-18

Interstellar age... a trip through time!

Fantastic summary of the missions. This is a must for all space buffs. My father worked on a team that helped launch the probes and he always had an interest in the continuing missions. He would have greatly enjoyed this audio book if he were still with us.

1 person found this helpful

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  • wbiro
  • 17-01-18

Actually Exhilarating

The author narrated, and curiously (and it may be the reason why), the best parts of an already good book were his childhood anecdotes, which lent a youthful verve throughout. The next outstanding part, since many books cover the planets (and this one did it well from the Voyager perspectives), was when Voyager 2 (I believe) was well beyond the planets and nearing the front edge of the heliopause. You're talking about just a few beeps, but a LOT of runaway imagination. The crisis through Saturn's rings was a Moment. I came away thinking it would be crazy to cut off contact (funding) as long as the probe was still sending data (which incredibly is a bi-yearly possibility. The book doesn't complain, but military spending is around $600 billion, and NASA is making do eating grass. You will think, "Something needs to be done" (the problem is philosophical, and I've fixed it - go tell the world, and get this (and many other human mental ills) fixed).

1 person found this helpful