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Liftoff Reviews

Liftoff by Eric Berger

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

Eric Berger

Score pending

2 reviews

Category: Non-fiction
Imprint: William Collins
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 4 Mar 2021
ISBN: 9780008445621

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.

3 stars out of 5
8 May 2021

"Elon Musk’s plans to colonise Mars are described in heroic terms by Eric Berger"

The characters are there, the texture is there, and the colour is certainly there. Anecdotes include the tale of the SpaceX intern who for unknowable reasons thought it would be a good idea to bring a handgun and 100 rounds of ammo on a plane to a military base, and the story of an unfortunate owl caught up in the vent of a launch and dashed off to the medics (and an unknown fate). Everything seems to be in place for a great narrative — until the creeping feeling that something is missing finally catches up with you. This should read like the script of a Frank Capra movie, the little guy taking on the world. Why doesn’t it?


4 stars out of 5
John Thornhill
9 Apr 2021

"This chronicle of the early days of SpaceX shows how close the maverick entrepreneur was to losing his dream"

Eric Berger, senior space editor at the Ars Technica website, does a fine job of telling the white-knuckle story of how SpaceX was created in 2002 and came close to collapse several times. Although Liftoff recounts the experiences of many of SpaceX’s brilliant engineers, the near-maniacal Musk is almost always at the heart of the story. His obsession with even the smallest technical details meant he spent up to 90 per cent of his time at SpaceX dealing with precise engineering questions, enabling him to take operational and financial decisions with in-depth knowledge and startling speed.