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.
When he founded SpaceX, Elon Musk had only budgeted for three launches. After two more failed flight tests, and with only one 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. 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. 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.
"This is a book that will hold your rapt attention from start to finish." - CHARLES BOLDEN, Former NASA Administrator and Four-Time Astronaut 'An up-close account of the otherworldly trajectory of tech magnate Elon Musk ... Readers interested in business and entrepreneurship, as well as outer space, will find Berger's book irrresistable.' - KIRKUS Reviews '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 '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
Book experts at your service
What are you looking for?