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How to make a spaceship : a band of renegades, an epic race, and the birth of private space flight
2016
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Summary
A New York Times bestseller!

The historic race that reawakened the promise of manned spaceflight

A Finalist for the PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award

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.
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Booklist Review
In 2004, the aerospace world was abuzz when a private company, Scaled Composites, launched a person into space for a few suborbital minutes. Sponsors hailed the success as the beginning of commercial space tourism, though that hasn't yet happened. Nevertheless, the company perseveres with backing from business mogul Richard Branson, who provides an upbeat introduction to Guthrie's (The Billionaire and the Mechanic, 2013) account, which features the life story of the project's instigator, Peter Diamandis. In college, he designed spacecraft gadgets and organized spaceflight clubs. In business, he created four companies, whose fickle fortunes Guthrie describes, before hitting upon his golden entrepreneurial idea, replicating for the space age the inducement that launched Charles Lindbergh: a monetary prize for flying the Atlantic. Diamandis offered the XPRIZE for a successful non-NASA space mission. Even though he did not initially have the announced $10 million for the prize, his persuasiveness filled the coffers, attracted contestants, and, most importantly, secured support from the likes of Branson and Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen. Guthrie well captures the high-risk, buccaneering spirit of privately financed spaceflight.--Taylor, Gilbert Copyright 2016 Booklist
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Table of Contents
Foreword    Richard Bransonp. xiii
Prologue Mojave Desertp. 1
Part 1The Infinite Corridor
1Unrulyp. 11
2Early Regretsp. 27
3Pete in Spacep. 38
4Mojave Magicp. 50
5Space Medicinep. 64
6Being a Lindberghp. 78
7A Career in Orbitp. 87
8Struggles in the Real Worldp. 101
9Meeting the Magicianp. 114
10An Out-of-This-World Ideap. 123
Part 2The Art of the Impossible
11Eyes on the Prizep. 139
12Cowboy Pilotp. 153
13History Repeats Itselfp. 164
14The Space Derbyp. 178
15Epiphanies in the Mojavep. 189
16Peter's Pitchesp. 203
17A Lindbergh Sculpts a Dreamp. 216
18Peter Blasts Offp. 224
19Elon's Inspirationp. 237
20Burt and Paul's Big Adventurep. 245
21A Lifeline for the XPRIZEp. 259
22A Display of Hardwarep. 266
23Another Lindbergh Takes Flightp. 280
24A Hole in Onep. 292
Part 3A Race to Remember
25A Fire to Be Ignitedp. 305
26The Test of a Lifetimep. 321
27Flirting with Calamityp. 334
28Power Strugglesp. 349
29In Pursuit of a Masterpiecep. 363
30One for the Moneyp. 373
31Rocketing to Redemptionp. 388
32Hallowed Companyp. 402
Epilogue: Where Are They Now?p. 405
Afterword: Space, Here I Come!    Stephen Hawkingp. 413
Author's Notep. 417
Acknowledgmentsp. 421
Indexp. 423
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