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

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

"This is as important a book on space as has ever been written and it's a riveting page-turner, too." —Homer Hickam, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of Rocket Boys

The dramatic inside story of the 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 it is private companies, led by SpaceX, standing alongside NASA pushing forward into the cosmos, and 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, senior space editor at Ars Technica, 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. We travel from company headquarters in El Segundo, to the isolated Texas ranchland where they performed engine tests, to Kwajalein, the tiny atoll in the Pacific where SpaceX launched the Falcon 1. Berger has reported on SpaceX for more than a decade, enjoying unparalleled journalistic access to the company’s inner workings. Liftoff is the culmination of these efforts, 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.

Filled with never-before-told stories of SpaceX’s turbulent beginning, Liftoff is a saga of cosmic proportions.

Title:Liftoff: Elon Musk and the Desperate Early Days That Launched SpaceX
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780062979971
Format Type:

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

  • WorldconReader

    Disclaimer: I would like to thank the author and publisher for providing a review copy of this book.Liftoff by Eric Berger clearly and realistically describes the historic journey of SpaceX as it race...

  • James Giammona

    Great first-hand accounts of the early days of SpaceX and the work that went into getting the Falcon 1 into orbit. Loved reading it!Some well-meaning constructive criticism. The reason I didn't give t...

  • Akshay

    Loved this one. ...

  • Matt Cannon

    I really enjoyed this book! Some of the details are facts I’ve heard before and some are more in depth stories I don’t think anyone other than those present know. Elon looked on NASA’s site to s...

  • Patrick Pilz

    Thank you #Netgalley for the Advanced Copy of the book.Elon Musk, a real-life Tony Stark is certainly one of the biggest inventors of current times. A lot of books have been written about him or the c...

  • Giacomo

    As the title says, "Liftoff: Elon Musk and the Desperate Early Days That Launched SpaceX" is an account of the first years of SpaceX, written by Ars Technica's senior space editor Eric Berger.The book...

  • Marios

    When I was a young boy I remember daydreaming about the first tycoons like Vanderbilt or Carnegie, or inventors whose innovations changed the world drastically. I didn’t want to be one, I wanted to ...

  • Tyler

    Eric Berger, a veteran writer for a science and technology publication called Ars Technica, has penned a remarkable account of what has become the most successful private sector spaceflight organizati...

  • Phil

    This is very nearly 5 stars for me (and I may come back and change it yet!), but I'm a sucker for insider engineering stories, even more so if they deal with space travel.This is a great brisk book on...

  • Andreas

    Given unprecedented access to the current and former employees of SpaceX, including Elon Musk, Mr. Berger of Ars Technica tells the story of the first years of SpaceX. The company was a maverick start...