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How to Make a Spaceship

How to Make a Spaceship

A Band of Renegades, an Epic Race, and the Birth of Private Spaceflight

Preface by Richard BransonAfterword by Stephen Hawking

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Available in Paperback September 2017

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.

Reviews

The Washington Post"[How to Make a Spaceship] reads like a thriller . . . The story sounds incredible, as if torn from the pages of science fiction. And it has a happy ending."

The Wall Street Journal"If you admire those who aim really high, How to Make a Spaceship belongs on your bookshelf. . . . [It] offers a rousing anthem to the urge to explore."

San Francisco Chronicle"When the history of 21st century American space efforts is written decades or centuries from now, this book will be a valuable contemporary record of what it was like when humanity was trying to break out of its home."

Wired.com"[How to Make a Spaceship] includes enough death-defying stunts, madcap schemes, wild coincidences, and rousing redemptive moments to fuel a dozen Hollywood blockbusters."

Nature"In How to Make a Spaceship, journalist Julian Guthrie tackles the story of private spaceflight. Readers who want to know about its early days will revel in her charismatic sketches of the space geeks, entrepreneurs and aviation buffs who made SpaceShipOne."

Publishers Weekly"If readers are looking for scientific discussions, humorous anecdotes, and intense action, Guthrie covers those. The flights are written to make readers feel like they’re experiencing them in real time, nerves and all."

Kirkus Reviews"Engaging . . . Just the thing for aspiring astronauts and rocketeers."

Ken Auletta
Author of Googled: The End of the World as We Know It
"I don’t know how Julian Guthrie does it. In her last book, she didn’t race in the America’s Cup, yet readers felt they had. And now in How to Make a Spaceship, although she wasn’t strapped into the cockpit of the first civilian spacecraft to rocket into outer space, her vivid writing places readers right there. With the flair of a novelist and the precision of a fine journalist, she takes readers on a journey not just into space but into the hearts and minds of the adventurers who dare go where NASA no longer does. Her tale will quicken your pulse."

Arianna Huffington
Author, cofounder of The Huffington Post
"The story of Peter Diamandis is a reminder of the power of passion and persistence. How to Make a Spaceship chronicles the amazing journey of a key figure in the private race to space—a dreamer who, in the face of multiple setbacks and naysayers, simply refused to let go of his dream."

Dean Kamen
Inventor, entrepreneur, founder of FIRST Robotics
"Too few kids and young adults understand the power of science and technology. We need role models demonstrating the power of passion and perseverance to make dreams come true. How to Make a Spaceship is filled with innovators and doers. The story will inspire makers of all ages."

Captain Mark Kelly (USN, Ret.)
Former naval aviator, test pilot, and NASA astronaut
"This incredible book is The Right Stuff with afterburners. Intrepid designers and innovators risk their reputations. Gutsy test pilots risk their lives. Explorers push new boundaries of what so many once thought was impossible. All brought together by a real gravity-defying force, Peter Diamandis. How to Make a Spaceship is required reading for anyone who cares about space, aviation, and the future of flight."

Ray Kurzweil, Inventor, Author, Futurist and Chancellor, Singularity University"This outstanding and compelling book shows the power of one man’s vision, and the ability of small teams to accomplish extraordinary things. How to Make a Spaceship will inspire and guide you to take on your own Moonshot."

Gwyneth Paltrow"[A book] that has the power to expand minds, while wholly captivating our imagination."

Pharrell Williams"How to Make a Spaceship is an incredible story of passion and persistance."

Seth Green"Need inspiration? Try this book."

Tony Robbins"Need inspiration for your own moonshot? Buy this book. Read it!"