Liftoff

Elon Musk and the Desperate Early Days That Launched SpaceX

by Eric Berger

On Sale: 03/02/2021

Liftoff

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Liftoff

Elon Musk and the Desperate Early Days That Launched SpaceX

by Eric Berger

On Sale: 03/02/2021

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About the Book

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. 

In 2006, SpaceX—a brand-new venture with fewer than 200 employees—rolled its first, single-engine rocket onto a launch pad at Kwajalein Atoll. After a groundbreaking launch from the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the Falcon 1 rocket designed by Elon Musk’s engineers rose in the air for approximately thirty seconds. Then, its engine flamed out, and the rocket crashed back into the ocean. 

In 2007, SpaceX undertook a second launch. This time, the rocket rose far into space, but just before reaching orbit it spun out of control. Confident of success in 2008, Musk and his team launched their third rocket with several paying customers. The first stage executed perfectly, but instead of falling away, it thudded into the second stage. Another failure. Elon Musk had only budgeted for three attempts when he founded SpaceX.

Out of money and with a single Falcon 1 rocket left in its factory, SpaceX decided to try one last, dramatic launch. Over eight weeks, engineers worked furiously to prepare this final rocket. The fate of Musk’s venture mirrored the trajectory of this slender, single-engine rocket aimed toward the skies. If it crashed and burned, so would SpaceX. In September 2008, SpaceX’s last chance for success lifted off . . . and accelerated like a dream, soaring into orbit flawlessly.

That success would launch a miraculous decade for the company, in which SpaceX grew from building a single-engine rocket to one with a staggering 27 engines; created two different spacecraft, and mastered reusable-rocket descents using mobile drone ships on the open seas. It marked a level of production and achievement that has not been seen since the space race of the 1960s.

But these achievements would not have been possible without SpaceX’s first four flight tests. Drawing on unparalleled access and exclusive interviews with dozens of former and current employees—engineers, designers, mechanics, and executives, including Elon Musk—Eric Berger tells the complete story of this foundational generation that transformed SpaceX into the world’s leading space company.

Liftoff includes more than a dozen photographs.

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Critical Praise

"Liftoff reads like something out of the golden age of Science Fiction but this isn't a novel by Robert Heinlein or Arthur C. Clarke. This is the true, astounding story of the men and women who spun those sci-fi dreams into reality. 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 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." - SIMON WINCHESTER, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Perfectionists

“Eric Berger has followed the exploits of SpaceX and its founder, Elon Musk, from its very early days. In Liftoff, Eric relates the many personal accounts collected in one-on-one interviews with Musk and many of his key leaders and associates. He chronicles the frenetic pace of Falcon 1 development and the toll it took on many of the early employees. This is a book that will hold your rapt attention from start to finish.” - CHARLES BOLDEN, Former NASA Administrator and Four-Time Astronaut

“Eric Berger brings to life the passion and sacrifice of the early SpaceX team as they navigated through countless obstacles toward unlikely success. The skillfully described technical details, paired with a candid glimpse into individual personalities, makes Liftoff a must read for space enthusiasts and novices alike.” - KAREN NYBERG, NASA Astronaut

“This might be the best space book I've ever read. Liftoff will prove to be a defining story not only for the commercial space industry, but for the Space Age writ large, and there's no one better than Eric Berger to tell it.” - KELLIE GERARDI, author of Not Necessarily Rocket Science

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Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780062979971
  • ISBN 10: 0062979973
  • Imprint: William Morrow
  • On Sale: 03/02/2021
  • Pages: 288
  • List Price:34.99 CAD
  • BISAC1 : SCIENCE / History
  • BISAC2 : SCIENCE / Space Science
  • BISAC3 : BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Entrepreneurship

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