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Liftoff: Elon Musk and the Desperate Early Days That Launched SpaceX Paperback – 20 March 2021
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‘Just read it.’ Elon Musk
The dramatic inside story of the first four historic flights that launched SpaceX―and Elon Musk―from a shaky startup into the world's leading edge rocket company.
SpaceX has enjoyed a miraculous decade. Less than 20 years after its founding, it boasts the largest constellation of commercial satellites in orbit, has pioneered reusable rockets, and in 2020 became the first private company to launch human beings into orbit. Half a century after the space race SpaceX is pushing forward into the cosmos, laying the foundation for our exploration of other worlds.
But before it became one of the most powerful players in the aerospace industry, SpaceX was a fledgling startup, scrambling to develop a single workable rocket before the money ran dry. The engineering challenge was immense; numerous other private companies had failed similar attempts. And even if SpaceX succeeded, they would then have to compete for government contracts with titans such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing, who had tens of thousands of employees and tens of billions of dollars in annual revenue. SpaceX had fewer than 200 employees and the relative pittance of $100 million in the bank.
In Liftoff, Eric Berger takes readers inside the wild early days that made SpaceX. Focusing on the company’s first four launches of the Falcon 1 rocket, he charts the bumpy journey from scrappy underdog to aerospace pioneer. drawing upon exclusive interviews with dozens of former and current engineers, designers, mechanics, and executives, including Elon Musk. The enigmatic Musk, who founded the company with the dream of one day settling Mars, is the fuel that propels the book, with his daring vision for the future of space.
Frequently bought together
‘Berger vividly weaves a tale of technology development at its most heroic …The result is a rousing―and hopeful―saga of hard-won innovation succeeding on an epic scale.’
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY STARRED REVIEW
‘Berger writes with the kind of hard-won insider authority that only comes through covering the nuts and bolts of the commercial space industry for the past twenty years’ FORBES
‘Eric Berger does a fine job of telling the white-knuckle story of how SpaceX was created in 2002 and came close to collapse several times. Although Liftoff recounts the experiences of many of SpaceX’s brilliant engineers, the near-maniacal Musk is almost at the heart of the story.’ FINANCIAL TIMES
‘Eric Berger's book uses unparalleled access to Musk and all of SpaceX's early staff to place the reader right among them. It is written with verve and polish to keep you turning the pages.’ SPECTATOR
‘The compelling story of how Elon Musk’s relentless quest to get humans to Marks helped SpaceX succeed against the odds makes great reading’NEW SCIENTIST
“This is a book that will hold your rapt attention from start to finish.” ― CHARLES BOLDEN, Former NASA Administrator and Four-Time Astronaut
‘The elegant brilliance of the engineering that allows today’s space rockets to land themselves back on earth – or at sea – right way up, and on target to the inch, is all the doing of the teams assembled by Elon Musk – and the story of how he did it, and how for sure he will get us to Mars whether we like it or not, is told in appropriately stellar fashion by Eric Berger in a book that held me captive, in earth orbit, from prologue to epilogue, countdown to splashdown.’
About the Author
Eric Berger is the senior space editor at Ars Technica, covering everything from new space to NASA policy. Eric has an astronomy degree from the University of Texas and a master's in journalism from the University of Missouri. He previously worked at the Houston Chronicle for 17 years, where the paper was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2009 for his coverage of Hurricane Ike.
- Publisher : William Collins (20 March 2021)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 000844563X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0008445638
- Item Weight : 270 g
- Dimensions : 15.3 x 2.3 x 23.4 cm
- Country of Origin : United Kingdom
- Best Sellers Rank: #11,870 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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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.
Buy this book, you won't regret it.
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.
What I like about the book is the way the employees are depicted. We all know Elon is a great visionary but without such a great tribe he wouldn't be as successful.
The stories are fascinating and demonstrate the dedication of the employees at SpaceX, they all believed in the vision and gave up so much to make it happen.
I think this book should be dedicated to the fantastic staff who helped make Elons vision come to reality.