Rocket Billionaires: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the New Space Race

by: Tim Fernholz (0)

This “smart analysis of the New Space sector” goes inside the rapid rise and dramatic rivalry of private space companies SpaceX and Blue Origin (The New York Times Book Review).
  For the outsize personalities staking their fortunes on spaceships, the new race to explore space could be a dead end, a lucrative opportunity—or the key to humanity’s survival.
Rocket Billionaires shines a light on Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos as they attempt to make history, reinvent the space economy, and feed their own egos. Beyond these two towering figures, Tim Fernholz introduces a supporting cast of equally fascinating entrepreneurs, from the irrepressible British mogul Richard Branson to the satellite internet visionary Greg Wyler.

Fernholz’s fly‑on‑the‑wall reporting captures an industry in the midst of disruption. While NASA seeks to preserve its ambitious space program, traditional aerospace firms like Boeing and Lockheed Martin scramble to adapt to new competitors, lobbyists tussle over public funds, and lawmakers try to prevent this new space race from sparking global conflict. It’s a high‑stakes marathon that Fernholz recounts with expert analysis and revealing detail.
Featured on NPR and PBS’s SciTech Now, and in Fast CompanyForbes, and the Wall Street Journal

The Reviews

Highly readable account of the current business of space exploration. As a (retired) finance professor, I greatly appreciated the fairly detailed financial analysis. As a physics graduate, I wish there had been more about the physics involved in spacecraft development. Whilst I'm happy to allot 5* to this, I do wonder whether the very favourable light shone on SpaceX, compared with its competitors, is because (a) SpaceX genuinely deserve this, or (b) the much greater flow of information and access from that company has had an effect.

Good overview of Space X, Blue Origin and Virgin Atlantic private space programs and competition. The programs have different goals, but need to develop better launch capabilities to make their ultimate goals. Musk and Bezos are both space lovers, from their childhood to now. They do other things in order to indulge in their first love, which is space. Musk wants to colonize Mars. Bezos want to establish floating cities of millions of people living and working in space. Branson wants to establish space tourism, as does Bezos. Space X is the hare and Bezos is the tortoise, and this is by design. Lockheed Martin and Boeing have been so corrupted by government cost-plus procurement, that they can not compete when it comes to cost. Watch for the new space companies to bring down the cost of launches through the use of reuseable rockets and vehicles. We need new engines which lower costs and high reliability, and we need to make space flight affordable to the masses. It is a good primer to follow what the privatization of space and the competition is all about.

Fernholz does a great job at developing a compelling narrative about the brief history of New Space. While a large extent of the book is centered around the "rocket billionaires", a wider perspective on the context in which commercial space has evolved in recent years is also provided. I especially enjoyed learning about how NASA has changed in response to the pioneerism of Musk and Bezos. The author makes no effort to hide his admiration for SpaceX and Blue Origin, which might be reflected in his depiction of their more established competitors. Biased or not, that does not compromise the quality of a well-researched book mostly based on first-hand interviews. Without any doubt, a mandatory reading for anyone interested in New Space that also happens to be entertaining for a broader audience.

Very interesting read. Written so it is fun to read. Lots of information dished up without getting boring.

After reading several books on Elon Musk, I am a big fan and recommend everyone to read about the advancements of rocket technology in america!

The story of how the civilian billionaires have shown how bad the government and their partner companies waste $100 billions of tax dollars

Good reading. Private money is what's needed.

My son loved this book

The price is great. I haven't had to use it yet. However, I believe it will stand up to the bolt I need it for on the bus.

Rocket Billionaires: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the New Space Race
⭐ 4.5 💛 114
kindle: $2.39
paperback: $1.79
hardcover: $21.17
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