SCIENCES

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

Morrow. Mar. 2021. 288p. ISBN 9780062979971. $27.99. SCI
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In this page-turner, award-winning journalist Berger explores the critical early days of SpaceX, the rocket manufacturing company founded by Elon Musk. The story begins in late 2000 when Musk, inspired by a conversation about space travel, researched NASA’s website to see how far the agency had progressed regarding a human mission to Mars. When he discovered that NASA had no plans to do so, Musk decided to start his own company, SpaceX, with the bold idea of building spaceships to send people to Mars. Musk began to assemble a team of brilliant minds and creative engineers, including Tom Mueller, Anne Chinnery, Hans Koenigsmann, and Gwynne Shotwell. Berger examines the background of each of the team members and the circumstances that led them to join SpaceX. They would face numerous challenges: launch failures and liquid oxygen issues; excessive travel and long days and nights; and relentless pressure from Musk. Despite these challenges, they accomplished remarkable things, which culminated in the launch of the Falcon 1 rocket on its fourth attempt on September 28, 2008—the first ever privately funded rocket to go into orbit.
VERDICT An extraordinary story of compelling narrative nonfiction that is recommended for those interested in space travel or for anyone looking for an exciting read.

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