Liftoff: Elon Musk and the Desperate Early Days That Launched SpaceX

Liftoff: Elon Musk and the Desperate Early Days That Launched SpaceX

by Eric Berger

Hardcover

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Overview

"This is as important a book on space as has ever been written and it's a riveting page-turner, too." —Homer Hickam, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of Rocket Boys

The dramatic inside story of the 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 it is private companies, led by SpaceX, standing alongside NASA pushing forward into the cosmos, and 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, senior space editor at Ars Technica, 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. We travel from company headquarters in El Segundo, to the isolated Texas ranchland where they performed engine tests, to Kwajalein, the tiny atoll in the Pacific where SpaceX launched the Falcon 1. Berger has reported on SpaceX for more than a decade, enjoying unparalleled journalistic access to the company’s inner workings. Liftoff is the culmination of these efforts, 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.

Filled with never-before-told stories of SpaceX’s turbulent beginning, Liftoff is a saga of cosmic proportions.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062979971
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/02/2021
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 30,875
Product dimensions: 9.10(w) x 6.00(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Eric Berger is a reporter and editor based in Houston. After a long career in the Houston Chronicle, he joined Ars Technica in 2015 as the site’s senior space editor, covering SpaceX, NASA, and everything beyond. He was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his coverage of Hurricane Ike in the Houston Chronicle in 2008. 

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

1 Early Years 5

2 Merlin 27

3 Kwaj 47

4 Flight One 69

5 Selling Rockets 95

6 Flight Two 117

7 Texas 141

8 Flight Three 161

9 Eight Weeks 181

10 Flight Four 199

11 Always go to Eleven 215

Epilogue 239

Acknowledgments 259

Key Spacex Employees from 2002 to 2008 261

Timeline 263

Bulent Altan's Turkish Goulash 267

Index 269

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