"The Exploration of Space" is a work of non-fiction written by Arthur C. Clarke, published in a first edition in 1951 and in a second edition in 1959. I read the second edition, which was published after the launch of Sputnik.

Although Clark was known more as a science-fiction writer, this book is written very technically, explaining the basic scientific principles of rocketry and communications in space travel. As with most things written in the past detailing the progress of technology, much of the interest for the modern reader comes from seeing just how right Clark was on some things, and how off he was on others. We do indeed have satellites in geostationary orbit broadcasting television to anywhere in the world--- but Venus is not a warm and comfortable swamp world ripe for human colonization. In general, like much written in the early Space Age, the predictions about flight technology were very optimistic (the book talks about moon bases and manned expeditions to other planets) while its predictions about information technology were pessimistic (such as saying that television signals could probably never be received from other planets).

The problem with making predictions is that true predictions often turn out to be obvious in retrospect, while untrue predictions seem ridiculous. Clark predicted that satellites would change communication, and that we would have space stations and space shuttles now seems commonplace, although they were revolutionary ideas at the time. On the other hand, moon bases, colonies on the swamps of Venus, and interstellar travel have all failed to materialize and now seem somewhat silly. But by reading this book in context, we can understand how clear and prescient of a thinker Clark was.