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Rocketeers: How a Visionary Band of Business Leaders, Engineers, and Pilots is Boldly Privatizing Space Paperback – Bargain Price, July 29, 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

The author of Rocketeers, Michael Belfiore has written about spaceflight and advanced technology for Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, New Scientist, Air & Space, Smithsonian, Financial Times, Wired.com, and other media outlets. He lives in Woodstock, New York.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (July 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061149039
  • ASIN: B00381B7OG
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,142,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Zuchero on August 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
For anyone who, as a kid, sat enthralled in front of the television watching men walk on the moon, or anyone interested in where space travel may be heading in the future, this is the book for you. I stumbled across it accidentally on its first day of publication and finished it the next. Belfiore does a great job covering the landscape of current commercial space projects and the entrepreneurs trying to open space to all. I've read about many of the companies covered in the book before, but Belfiore provides a deeper insight into the fascinating people behind the companies and their dreams for space travel. Belfiore has a clean writing style that makes for a fast-paced read. The book ends with a bit of speculative fiction about what might develop in the future from these commercial space endeavors. If only a tenth of it comes true, I hope I'm around to see it.

I recently spent a few days at a NASA facility with a group of teachers. I asked them the same question that Robert Bigalow asks in the book, "What is America's inspiration today?" They didn't have an answer. Neither did I. And I didn't see an answer during my NASA visit. NASA is doing some great things with what they have, but they seem a somewhat demoralized by the fickleness of political support and funding. Who can blame them? Surrounded by mothballed and rusting test stands and equipment, it certainly wasn't the NASA of my youth or the Apollo program.

However, the commercial space guys seem to be a breed of their own. A group of dreamers, entrepreneurs and space buffs, some using their own money, trying to open space to regular folks. I think the commercial space pioneers described in the book could provide the excitement and possibly the inspiration we desperately need in this country. Sure, it's a long shot, but I think it might be the best one we have. I'm looking forward to it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fairly short and easy to read magazine-style investigative-journalistic
human interest narrative about some of the exciting people and companies
involved in America's burgeoning private space industry: the X Prize,
Burt Rutan, Virgin Galactic, Elon Musk, Robert Bigelow and a few others.
I thought the best chapters were about Burt Rutan and winning the
XPrize, in particular the blow by blow account of all the troubles they
had, very edge of the seat; also the backgrounds of Elon Musk and Robert
Bigelow. As a journalistic work it is ephemeral and will be outdated
(except as a source for later writers) but if your fascinated by
the events, people and rocket ships, this is an excellent overview valuable right now,
it's still too early to write the history. Belfiore writes for a number of periodicals like
Popular Science, Wired, New Scientists, and claims to be one of only a
few who are covering this exciting new industry, so he will certainly be
an author to watch in the years ahead.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Now that everyone seems to be criticising NASA, with much justification people are looking for alternatives. Privatizations is one such option. I have no doubt that it could be a good option.

However although this book had some interesting stories which I quite enjoyed I am yet to see much evidence for any real results for this privatizations for example, Virgin Galactic always seems to be only a few years to go.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A fun, engaging and a bit scattershot look at the visionaries trying to jump start the private space flight business. The book already needs serious updating as many of the companies and projects featured have died, morphed into something else, are still struggling to hit oft-delayed schedules or, in a case or two, have accomplished major goals. Belfiore has successfully captured many of the personalities involved and does an excellent job explaining the technologies involved as well.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a short, easy to read story about many of the companies and personalities involved in the privatization of space flight, aka "NewSpace" that ends in 2006-2007. The 2008 paperback version has a two-page epilogue that has some updated information through early 2008. The book is well-written and very interesting, but is is beginning to become quite dated five years later. I would love to see a second book like this from Michael, especially since 2013 is looking to be a very exciting year for NewSpace. In the meantime, there are many blogs and websites that have more current infromation that will be useful after you get some historical background from the this book.
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Format: Hardcover
To cut to the chase, if you want to buy a book on the private space industry this year, buy Rocketeers by Michael Belfiore. It is a brilliant look at the recent history of private companies trying to get into space and make a dollar by someone who was at ground zero. It is an easy read for anyone regardless of technical background.

For those of you who interested in more detail, Rocketeers starts out at the second X-Prize flight of SpaceShipOne, as Mr. Belfiore takes us from the VIP section at Mojave back through the Apollo era at NASA and its effect on him. I identified with his excitement and later disappointment at where NASA took us in space.

He follows the history of the X-Prize starting with Peter Diamandis' ingénues idea to have a prize for going to space. All this leads up to a word picture of what it felt like to see Brian Binnie break the 62-mile invisible wall into space. This marks the beginning of the modern private space age.

Rocketeers takes us to an in-depth peek into most of the major private space companies. He talks with the visionaries and engineers (and even passengers) from the most successful businesses, such as SpaceX, to ill-fated endeavors, like the da Vinci Project and everyone in-between including Bigelow Aerospace, RocketPlane, the Rocket Racing League, and Virgin Galactic. Moreover, he looks at each of these without judgment on their chance of success or importance. He simply reports what they are doing and why and lets the reader decide who is worth watching.

Before you accuse me of taking bribes from Harper Collins or Mr. Belfiore, there are some less than perfect parts of the book. First, the flow-of-consciousness science fiction style Mr.
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