It depends what you mean by "PR gimmick." Yes, Space Adventures CEO Eric Anderson has co-authored The Space Tourist´s Handbook. And, as head of the first true cosmic travel agency—the company has already sent three private citizens for stays on the International Space Station via Soyuz spacecraft—Anderson is surely hoping to generate some buzz and perhaps drum up some business. But don´t dismiss his effort so casually. The book not only provides legit tips for the prospective space tourist—where to go (a spin on the Vomit Comet? suborbit? the ISS?); what to see while you´re there; how to prepare—it´s also a worthwhile source of Earthbound amusement, even if you´ll never be able to afford such a vacation. Advice includes "How to deal with fights on the Space Station" (hint: don´t play chess with Russians), how to convince
the preflight psychologists that you´re not a nutcase, how to use the toilet in zero G, and what to expect if your ride to space explodes on the launchpad.
Even better are the instructions to those who might be observing the aborted launch from the ground, such as: "Watch for warning signs. A normal launch will include copious amounts of smoke and flame. Be sure these flames are coming from the bottom [of the rocket] and aiming downward. If you see flames coming from the sides of the booster rocket, or notice flaming pieces of metal shearing away from the booster, be ready to take evasive action." Indeed.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.