Rocketeers: How a Visionary Band of Business Leaders, Engineers, and Pilots Is Boldly Privatizing Space

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9780061149023: Rocketeers: How a Visionary Band of Business Leaders, Engineers, and Pilots Is Boldly Privatizing Space

“That this story is still unfolding makes it especially exciting to read. These men are still in their workshops, tinkering their way into orbit.” —David Gelles, FORBES

On June 21, 2004, SpaceShipOne, built by aircraft designer Burt Rutan, entered space and ushered in the commercial space age. Investment capital began to pour into the new commercial spaceflight industry. Richard Branson’s VirginGalactic plans to ferry space tourists out of the atmosphere. Las Vegas hotelier Robert Bigelow is developing the world’s first commercial space station (i.e., space hotel). These space entrepreneurs, including Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen and Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, now see space as the next big thing.

In Rocketeers, Michael Belfiore goes behind the scenes of this nascent industry, capturing its wild-west, anything-goes flavor. Likening his research to “hanging out in the Wright brothers’ barn,” Belfiore offers an inspiring and entertaining look at the people who are not afraid to make their bold dreams a reality.

“The commercial space race is heating up so fast you need a cheat sheet to keep track of all the billionaires and gamblers vying to be the first private entrepreneur to blast paying customers into orbit. [Belfiore] does a stellar job introducing an intriguing cast of characters.” —Mark Horowitz, Wired

“The privatization of space travel is an essential step toward realizing our cosmic destiny. In his engaging, highly readable Rocketeers, Michael Belfiore tells the fascinating story of the entrepreneurs who have already made it happen.” —Buzz Aldrin

“A riveting, you-are-there account of how this ragtag collection of innovative thinkers, brave pilots, and bold visionaries is—right now—launching one of the most exciting new industries in history. Belfiore’s eloquent writing and exhaustive reporting really bring this mysterious, secretive world to life.” —Eric Adams, Popular Science

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About the Author:

Michael Belfiore is one of only a handful of freelance journalists covering commercial spaceflight. Born in 1969—the year Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong walked on the moon—Belfiore has always been fascinated by space travel. He lives with his family in Woodstock, New York.

From Booklist:

Touring the rapidly changing non-NASA community, Belfiore reports on the technology and business plans behind dreams of privately financed access to space. He profiles several companies active in this arena, including one that will be familiar to the news-following public, Scaled Composites. It launched an astronaut into space for a few minutes in 2004, inspiring enthusiasts and attracting paying customers. Just what customers will pay for seems speculative—a brief experience of weightlessness, a vacation in an orbital hotel, a voyage to the moon––so these companies are accordingly varied in their ambitions. Goals seem directly related to those of the company founders, and Belfiore's strong biographical sketches explain the founders' fascination with spaceflight, their rocketry skills (which range from accomplished to, in the case of mogul Richard Branson, nonexistent), and the hands-on work of their employees. Imparting the technical specs of engines and vehicles, Belfiore betters description with his evocation of the visionary euphoria that animates these entrepreneurial daredevils, sealing the deal for fans of space futurism. Taylor, Gilbert

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