How to Make a Spaceship by Julian Guthrie
A Band of Renegades, an Epic Race, and the Birth of Private Spaceflight

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 3 Critic Reviews

Guthrie’s book isn’t quite up to the literary heights of Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff (1979), but it’s very good. The author treats matters of scientific and technical weight with a light hand...
-Kirkus

Synopsis

The historic race that reawakened the promise of manned spaceflight
 
Alone in a Spartan black cockpit, test pilot Mike Melvill rocketed toward space. He had eighty seconds to exceed the speed of sound and begin the climb to a target no civilian pilot had ever reached. He might not make it back alive. If he did, he would make history as the world’s first commercial astronaut.

The spectacle defied reason, the result of a competition dreamed up by entrepreneur Peter Diamandis, whose vision for a new race to space required small teams to do what only the world’s largest governments had done before.

Peter Diamandis was the son of hardworking immigrants who wanted their science prodigy to make the family proud and become a doctor. But from the age of eight, when he watched Apollo 11 land on the Moon, his singular goal was to get to space. When he realized NASA was winding down manned space flight, Diamandis set out on one of the great entrepreneurial adventure stories of our time. If the government wouldn’t send him to space, he would create a private space flight industry himself.
 
In the 1990s, this idea was the stuff of science fiction. Undaunted, Diamandis found inspiration in an unlikely place: the golden age of aviation. He discovered that Charles Lindbergh made his transatlantic flight to win a $25,000 prize. The flight made Lindbergh the most famous man on earth and galvanized the airline industry. Why, Diamandis thought, couldn’t the same be done for space flight?
 
The story of the bullet-shaped SpaceShipOne, and the other teams in the hunt, is an extraordinary tale of making the impossible possible. It is driven by outsized characters—Burt Rutan, Richard Branson, John Carmack, Paul Allen—and obsessive pursuits. In the end, as Diamandis dreamed, the result wasn’t just a victory for one team; it was the foundation for a new industry and a new age.
 

About Julian Guthrie

See more books from this Author
Julian Guthrie is an award-winning journalist and staff writer at the San Francisco Chronicle. She is the author of The Grace of Everyday Saints: How a Band of Believers Lost Their Church and Found Their Faith. She lives in San Francisco.
 
Published September 20, 2016 by Penguin Press. 447 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Science & Math. Non-fiction
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for How to Make a Spaceship
All: 3 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Above average
on Jul 19 2016

Guthrie’s book isn’t quite up to the literary heights of Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff (1979), but it’s very good. The author treats matters of scientific and technical weight with a light hand...

Read Full Review of How to Make a Spaceship: A Ba... | See more reviews from Kirkus

Publishers Weekly

Above average
on Nov 02 2016

Her willingness to gloss over the Randian ideology of some figures may also raise red flags for some readers. But if readers are looking for scientific discussions, humorous anecdotes, and intense action, Guthrie covers those bases.

Read Full Review of How to Make a Spaceship: A Ba... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by Gregg Easterbrook on Sep 16 2016

“How to Make a Spaceship” offers a rousing anthem to the urge to explore. But with access to orbit absurdly expensive and chemical fuels seemingly already maxed out—no contemporary rocket engine differs substantially from those used in the moon race—grand ambitions won’t make sense until there is a new way to place pounds into orbit.

Read Full Review of How to Make a Spaceship: A Ba... | See more reviews from WSJ online

Reader Rating for How to Make a Spaceship
95%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 28 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


Rate this book!

Add Review
×