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.
‘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
‘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.’ ―SIMON WINCHESTER
‘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, author of Rocket Boys
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.