Powersat (Grand Tour Series #9) [NOOK Book]


Two hundred thousand feet up, things go horribly wrong. An experimental low-orbit spaceplane breaks up on reentry, falling to earth over a trail hundreds of miles long. And it its wake is the beginning of the most important mission in the history of space.

America needs energy, and Dan Randolph is determined to give it to them. He dreams of an array of geosynchronous powersats, satellites which gather solar energy and beam it to generators on...
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Powersat (Grand Tour Series #9)

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Two hundred thousand feet up, things go horribly wrong. An experimental low-orbit spaceplane breaks up on reentry, falling to earth over a trail hundreds of miles long. And it its wake is the beginning of the most important mission in the history of space.

America needs energy, and Dan Randolph is determined to give it to them. He dreams of an array of geosynchronous powersats, satellites which gather solar energy and beam it to generators on Earth, freeing America from its addiction to fossil fuels and breaking the power of the oil cartels forever. But the wreck of the spaceplane has left his company, Astro Manufacturing, on the edge of bankruptcy.

Worse, Dan discovers that the plane worked perfectly right up until the moment that saboteurs knocked it out of the sky. And whoever brought it down is willing and able to kill again to keep Astro grounded.

Now Dan has to thread a dangerous maze. The visible threats are bad enough: Rival firms want to buy him out and take control of his dreams. His former lover wants to co-opt his unlimited-energy ideal as a campaign plank for the candidate she's grooming for the presidency. NASA and the FAA want to shut down his maverick firm. And his creditors are breathing down his neck.

Making matters even more dangerous, an international organization of terrorists sees the powersat as a threat to their own oil-based power. And they've figured out how to use it as a weapon in their war against the West.

A sweeping mix of space, murder, romance, politics, secrets, and betrayal, Powersat will take you to the edge of space and the dawning of a new world.

At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Six-time Hugo Award–winning author and editor Ben Bova explores the early life of one of his most intriguing characters -- the hard-driving space entrepreneur Dan Randolph -- in Powersat, a high-tech thriller about the maverick's struggle to create giant satellites that can gather and utilize the sun's energy.

If realized, Randolph's dream to manufacture powersats that gather solar energy and transfer it to generators on Earth would end America's dependence on fossil fuels forever. In the character's own words: "If we could convert even a tenth of one percent of…sunlight into electricity, the world would never have a power shortage. Ever." But standing in his way are numerous powerful opponents: NASA, the FAA, fanatical ecological groups, international oil corporations, and a terrorist organization called The Nine -- whose ultimate mission isn't only to make America dependent on Middle East oil but to destroy the nation altogether.

Bova's mastery of mixing hard scientific theories with compelling romantic and political intrigue is evident once again in Powersat, where the plotlines concerning experimental low-orbit spaceplanes and mile-long solar satellites are flawlessly intertwined with complicated relationships, including Randolph's ill-fated love affair with a U.S. senator and his tumultuous friendship with the head of a Japanese corporation trying to take over his floundering company. Not surprisingly, the prolific Bova's provides a page-turner of the highest order, as entertaining as it is inspiring. Readers will have a hard time putting this book down. Classic Ben! Paul Goat Allen

Publishers Weekly
Bova's polemical near-future SF thriller will appeal most to established fans who share his pro-space exploration politics. After Dan Randolph's Astro Corporation loses its experimental space plane on re-entry to the atmosphere, Dan discovers that the plane was destroyed by a terrorist conspiracy headed by "tall, bearded Saudi" Asim al-Bashir, who wishes to sabotage Astro's plans to put satellites in geosynchronous orbit capable of beaming solar energy in microwave form to earth. Al-Bashir has powerful allies, among them oil magnate Wendell T. Garrison, but Dan can turn to his own friends, including a female staff member who penetrates al-Bashir's organization. Dan later recruits to his cause some independent-minded FBI agents and Sen. Jane Thornton, with whom he renews their old affair (despite Jane's being secretly married to a senator running for president). While the straightforward motivations of both heroes and villains verge on the simplistic and the plot holds no surprises as it builds to a climactic confrontation over Washington, D.C., the author supplies a suspenseful ride and plenty of high-tech hardware. Agent, Barbara Bova. (Jan. 13) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Industrialist Dan Randolph is in a bind. The spaceplane necessary for making his power satellite feasible has blown up during its first test flight, killing the pilot. Terrorists are responsible, although Dan does not know it-terrorists who want to take control of his satellite and use it to attack Washington D.C. All Dan wants is to provide the United States with cheap, clean energy, but even more he wants to reunite with his former lover Jane Thornton, now a U.S. Senator. Unfortunately for him, her fate is now intertwined with a presidential front-runner whose major campaign platform is alternative energy sources. Their interests seem fated to bring them together, with only politics, business, and a terrorist attack standing in the way. After a weak start, this novel recovers to develop page-turning momentum by mid-book. The characters, while not terribly deep, are basically likeable, and the cast is large and busy enough to carry simultaneous plot threads. Ultimately, however, this book is a profoundly pedestrian effort by SF luminary Bova. None of the story lines-love story, terrorist plot, the little company that could-are rich enough to generate suspense. The book holds few surprises, and the fresher elements prove inadequate to cover what feels like writing-by-numbers: the Japanese man "slim as a samurai's blade;" the uniformly attractive women, all of whom desire or sleep with Randolph; the obligatory action sequence at the end; even the terrorists. The result is a very lightweight take on what should be more involving issues. VOYA CODES: 3Q 2P S A/YA (Readable without serious defects; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12;Adult-marketed book recommended for Young Adults). 2005, Tor, 400p., Ages 15 to Adult.
—Lisa Martincik
Library Journal
The explosion of a low-orbit spaceplane while on its test run nearly ruins the private business of its owner, Dan Randolph. Determined to create a new, space-based source of energy, Randolph finds himself in an all-out war with corporate rivals and agents from countries supplying fossil fuels to the United States and other energy-dependent nations. Bova's (The Silent War) dedication to space exploration as well as his grasp of today's discoveries makes his sf tales some of the most down-to-earth explorations of the real possibilities of future technology. A strong addition to most sf collections, with additional appeal to YA audiences. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Prequel to Bova's successful series dramatizing the near/medium-future exploration of the solar system (The Silent War, 2004, etc.). Industrialist Dan Randolph, determined to free the US from dependency on Middle East oil, intends to build a fleet of powersats: huge satellites that, placed in geosynchronous orbits, will soak up free sunlight and beam the power to Earth in the form of microwaves. Now, though the first powersat is already in orbit and nearly complete, Dan's Astro Manufacturing Corporation is nearly bankrupt, and his new spaceplane has mysteriously crashed. Saito Yamagata, Dan's old employer, is willing to offer loans-but Yamagata's a rival in the powersat business. Crusty old Wendell T. Garrison of Tricontinental oil wishes to give Dan money too-in exchange for a piece of Astro. Environmentalists, concerned that the microwaves from the powersat will harm wildlife and people, want Astro shut down. Dan's former lover, Senator Jane Thornton (their careers and lives went in impossibly different directions) is backing Texas governor Morgan Scanwell for president; Scanwell shares Dan's dream and will help Astro with long-term, low-cost loans-if he's elected. Investigators find no flaw with the spaceplane, convincing Dan that it was sabotaged. Then Garrison's new board member, super-rich oil sheikh Asim Al-Bashir, recommends that Tricontinental offer Dan a loan and openly supports Dan's powersat. Why? Well, Dan doesn't know that Al-Bashir secretly heads a terrorist organization whose objective is to seize control of the powersat-and microwave Washington. Plenty of agreeable complications, but the assembly-line cast and situations tag this as just a footnote to an otherwisedistinguished series.
From the Publisher
"Bova gets better and better, combining plausible science with increasingly complex fiction." —Los Angeles Daily News

"Bova proves himself equal to the task of showing how adversity can temper character in unforeseen ways." —The New York Times on Venus

"Hard-charging… Bova keeps the pages turning." -Publishers Weekly on The Rock Rats

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429910644
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 10/31/2006
  • Series: Grand Tour Series , #9
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 265,775
  • File size: 517 KB

Meet the Author

A past president of the National Space Society and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Ben Bova is the author of many novels and works of nonfiction about science, technology, and the future.

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Read an Excerpt


“California in sight.”
Test pilot Hannah Aarons saw the coastline as a low dark smudge stretching across the curving horizon far, far below. Beyond the cockpit’s thick quartz windshield she could see that the sky along that horizon was bright with a new morning coming up, shading into a deep violet and finally, overhead, into the black of infinite space.
The spaceplane arrowed across the sky at Mach 16 and crossed the California coast at an altitude of 197,000 feet, precisely on course. Through the visor of her pressure suit’s helmet, Aarons saw that the plane’s titanium nose was beginning to glow as it bit into the wispy atmosphere, heading for the landing field at Matagorda Island on the gulf coast of Texas. She began to hear the thin whistle of rarified air rushing across her cockpit.
“On the tick, Hannah,” she heard the flight controller’s voice in her helmet earphones. “Pitch-up maneuver in thirty seconds.”
“Copy pitch-up in thirty,” she answered.
The horizon dipped out of sight as the spaceplane’s nose came up slightly. All she could see now was the black void of space high above. She concentrated on the display screens of her control panel. The digital readout of the Mach meter began to click down: 16, 15.5, 15 … . The shoulder straps of her harness cutting into her by the g force, Hannah heard her breath coming out harsh, labored. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the leading edge of the plane’s stubby wings turning a sullen deep ruby. In seconds they’d be cherry red, she knew.
Suddenly the plane pitched downward so hard Hannah banged her nose painfully against her helmet visor. Her neck would have snapped if she weren’t in the protective harness. She gasped with sudden shock. The air outside her cockpit canopy began to howl, throwing streamers of orange fire at her.
“Pitch-down excursion!” she yelled into her helmet mike as she pulled at the T-shaped control yoke at her left hand. Her arms, even supported in their protective cradles, felt as if they weighed ten tons apiece. The plane was shaking so badly her vision blurred. The controls seemed locked; she couldn’t budge them.
“Servos overridden,” she said, her voice rising. Through the fiery glow outside her cockpit she could see the ground far, far below. It was rushing up to meet her. Stay calm, she told herself. Stay calm!
“Going to wire,” she called, thumbing the button that activated the plane’s backup fly-by-wire controls.
“No response!” The plane continued its screaming dive, yawing back and forth like a tumbling leaf, thumping her painfully against the sides of the narrow cockpit.
“Punch out!” came the controller’s voice, loud and frantic. “Hannah, get your butt out of there!”
The plane was spinning wildly now, slamming her around in her seat as it corkscrewed back and forth in its frenzied plunge toward the ground. She could taste blood in her mouth. The inflatable bladder of her g suit was squeezing her guts like toothpaste in a tube.
“Hannah!” A different voice. “This is Tenny. Punch out of there. Now!”
She nodded inside the helmet. She couldn’t think of what else to do. No other options. This bird’s a goner. It took a tremendous effort to inch her right hand along its cradle to the fire-engine red panic button. Just as she painfully flicked up its protective cover the plane’s left wing ripped away with a horrible wrenching sound, flipping the plane upside down.
Hannah’s arm snapped at the wrist. White-hot pain shot all the way up to her shoulder. She was still trying to push the eject button when the spaceplane broke into half a dozen blazing pieces and fell to earth in smoky meteor trails, scattering wreckage over several hundred square miles of flat, scrubby west Texas.
Copyright © 2005 by Ben Bova

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2004

    It's not easy being close to the ground and todays date!

    This piece succeeds where so many, many fear to tread because unlike hyperdrives and aliens it's about people. Really good S-F should make you slightly uncomfortable with a 'warts'n'all' attitude... Bova is one of the last of a breed that not only knows what he is doing but knows, more importantly, what we should be pushing to achieve. No one explains it better.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Powersat is well worth reading.

    Ben Bova's Powersat has just the right amount of suspense, romance, and drama. Bova gives each of the main characters their own point of view without overshadowing his main character. The plot is straightforward and the circumstances involved are realistic while still being science fiction. I believe the events in this story could really happen. Suspense and conflict are abundant, making the story move along while keeping me intrigued.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2012

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    Posted July 16, 2011

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