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Publisher's Summary

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 30 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. 

Supplemental enhancement PDF accompanies the audiobook. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.  

©2021 Eric Berger (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers

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Best book about SpaceX

The book goes into incredible depth of the early days of SpaceX and each Falcon 1 flight. If you’re a space fan, SpaceX fan or anything inbetween I highly suggest this book!

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  • Ian
  • 2021-03-27

As good as Ashley Vance’s book

Excellent . Well done and clearly read . I loved it. A clear history of an amazing time

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Well told, inside story of the first 4 launches

I'm not usually one for memoir-style books. I'm fiction all the way, but I gave this a shot and I'm glad I did. At times it can be a bit over-detailed, but the stories, motivations, sacrifices and narrative are very interesting. It might be possible to cobble this level of detail together from multiple other sources, but this is a fantastic place to start.

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  • Andrew Dodson
  • 2021-03-04

Excellent. Would make a good movie.

Full of technical details as well as touching personal stories and exciting action. Next stop Mars.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Jessica L.
  • 2021-03-03

The book Space X fans have been waiting for!

There’s only so much one can glean from past articles, interviews, etc. into the early days of this world changing company. This book is the deep dive many have been searching for, all to no avail until today. Lucky to live near Vandenberg where we get to witness some of the majesty of the work Elon/Space X has done, where the Falcon One first went vertical all those years ago before red tape forced the R&D to the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Born in the late 70’s so too young to have enjoyed the Apollo era, but imagine we are getting a lot of what that was to our elders generation, truly an exciting time to be alive. So thankful for the access we are provided to this program nowadays, how open they are to share the failures and successes. One thing for reference as a nearby resident, Lompoc is pronounced “Lom-poke.”

4 people found this helpful

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  • Gary H
  • 2021-03-06

Great Story, Go SpaceX!

Well researched and written story of the founding and initial launches of SpaceX. Having followed SpaceX for 15 years, I was pleased to hear things that were new and truly "inside" scoops. Thanks Eric for the time and effort to document the beginning.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2021-04-11

Outstanding

Excellent inside story with great details about SpaceX and the brilliance of Elon Musk. Very highly recommended.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Cody P Renshaw
  • 2021-04-11

Very Well Told From Multiple Perspectives

I’m a huge fan of Mr Berger’s writing style in this book. I’ve never heard the SpaceX formative story from so many perspectives - fascinating read!

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  • kevin
  • 2021-03-30

Great story

This was a thrilling and engaging book. I recommend it. Eric wrote it well and Rob helped you feel the experiences.

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  • Tyler Frable
  • 2021-03-25

Greatest Entrepreneurship Story of this Generation

What would you do with 180 million dollars? Would you risk half of it to change to face of the space industry, and thereby, the world as you know it? Musk did; and that took some serious courage.

I know what I would have done: invested it passively and become a billionaire the easy way. I think that's what most people would have done. Not Musk.

This is a story of risking everything, pouring all of your sweat and tears into your dream, almost losing it all, nearly proving the naysayers right, and coming out victorious against all odds! I love this book. I am more motivated in my own life for having listened.

Thank you Eric Berger and Rob Shapiro for presenting us with this incredible real life tale!

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  • Philip Keay
  • 2021-03-24

Superb space story

Superb telling of the most stupendous space story of the century. The book lives up to Eric Berger's excellent journalism covering events in the space industry as they occur.

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  • Julio Aprea
  • 2021-03-24

A must read

For people into space and rocketry, this tells an intimate and unique “origin story” of the company that has dramatically disrupted access to space.

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  • Charlie Pirelli
  • 2021-03-19

Cool story of innovation, very inspirational!

Great story with good detail. The stories are very engaging and exciting. The book is more about the team at SpaceX than Elon Musk, which is very insightful, but there's enough mentions of Musk to keep everything around a central storyline. Great read and very motivational!

1 person found this helpful