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In the summer of 2019, I relived the moon landing through two great pieces of audiovisual media. The BBC World Service podcast "13 Minutes To The Moon", a deep dive into the entire Apollo programme, and the same story told visually in Todd Douglas Miller's astonishing "Apollo 11", which I would urge you to see on as big a screen as possible.
They both reawakened a long dormant interest in space for me. I read a lot of tech news, so had vague awareness of the big milestones of SpaceX, but can't claim to have followed them.
So from that point on, I immersed myself in both the spaceflight history of a half century or more ago, and the spaceflight present; where once or twice a month - sometimes once or twice a *week*, SpaceX put a payload in orbit then bring back the first stage of the rocket that did it. Kennedy may have said, "we do these things not because they were easy, but because they are hard"; yet SpaceX have made launches seem as routine as a supermarket shop.
Eric Berger's book shows you, starting from zero, how they got there - through teamwork and the efforts of many individuals, many of whose stories we hear in detail as the narrative thrums along. Like so many American journalists. Berger has the ability to conjure an evocative sense of place and time; and there is one sequence in particular that cries out to be dramatised in a big budget movie one day.
If there is a downside then its an inevitable one when dealing with billionaires like Musk. There's no doubt the book has benefited from astonishing levels of access to the key players, but there are only a couple of places that are less than hagiographic in their treatment of his flawed genius. But this is a minor quibble, because it's not about Musk.
This is a fantastic book. I've followed SpaceX since before their first launch attempt in 2006 and read a lot about the company over the years. There is still much in this book that was either new to me or for the first time gave the detailed inside track on what really happened. Eric Berger has collected together a wonderful set of stories about the early years of SpaceX from the people who were there. A real strength of the book is the breadth of people involved. Elon remains the driving force behind the company, but it's great to read about so many others' huge contributions. Including people not in the public eye and who are not known outside the core space community. Buy this book, you won't regret it.
I got this book as I recently became an avid follower of the modern day space race. But what I didn't know much about was how & why Elon Musk got started with Space X.
Eric Berger takes the reader from the beginning right up to the successful first flights of the falcon 1 & how that led on to the falcon 9.
You don't need an engineering degree to follow this book. It focuses primarily on the human stories, the struggles and the hardship and the joyous moments too. The author was given full access to the staff, and weaves a great narrative from their accounts that's both an enjoyable read and very insightful. He doesn't shy away from hard truths, Elon Musk does not always come up smelling of roses & it's all the better for that.
Thoroughly enjoyed this as a great story about the people striving to do something that they were told over and over they were going to fail at and fail they did, a lot with all the stress that came with it. Also if you are into rocket tech its a no brainier.
I followed the early Merlin/falcon launches but never realized how narrow the path to success had been. Good descriptions of Musk's style and of the teams, members and targets. Essential reading for all space fans.