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The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos

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The historic quest to rekindle the human exploration and colonization of space led by two rivals and their vast fortunes, egos, and visions of space as the next entrepreneurial frontier The Space Barons is the story of a group of billionaire entrepreneurs who are pouring their fortunes into the epic resurrection of the American space program. Nearly a half-century after N/>The The historic quest to rekindle the human exploration and colonization of space led by two rivals and their vast fortunes, egos, and visions of space as the next entrepreneurial frontier The Space Barons is the story of a group of billionaire entrepreneurs who are pouring their fortunes into the epic resurrection of the American space program. Nearly a half-century after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, these Space Barons-most notably Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, along with Richard Branson and Paul Allen-are using Silicon Valley-style innovation to dramatically lower the cost of space travel, and send humans even further than NASA has gone. These entrepreneurs have founded some of the biggest brands in the world-Amazon, Microsoft, Virgin, Tesla, PayPal-and upended industry after industry. Now they are pursuing the biggest disruption of all: space. Based on years of reporting and exclusive interviews with all four billionaires, this authoritative account is a dramatic tale of risk and high adventure, the birth of a new Space Age, fueled by some of the world's richest men as they struggle to end governments' monopoly on the cosmos. The Space Barons is also a story of rivalry-hard-charging startups warring with established contractors, and the personal clashes of the leaders of this new space movement, particularly Musk and Bezos, as they aim for the moon and Mars and beyond.


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The historic quest to rekindle the human exploration and colonization of space led by two rivals and their vast fortunes, egos, and visions of space as the next entrepreneurial frontier The Space Barons is the story of a group of billionaire entrepreneurs who are pouring their fortunes into the epic resurrection of the American space program. Nearly a half-century after N/>The The historic quest to rekindle the human exploration and colonization of space led by two rivals and their vast fortunes, egos, and visions of space as the next entrepreneurial frontier The Space Barons is the story of a group of billionaire entrepreneurs who are pouring their fortunes into the epic resurrection of the American space program. Nearly a half-century after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, these Space Barons-most notably Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, along with Richard Branson and Paul Allen-are using Silicon Valley-style innovation to dramatically lower the cost of space travel, and send humans even further than NASA has gone. These entrepreneurs have founded some of the biggest brands in the world-Amazon, Microsoft, Virgin, Tesla, PayPal-and upended industry after industry. Now they are pursuing the biggest disruption of all: space. Based on years of reporting and exclusive interviews with all four billionaires, this authoritative account is a dramatic tale of risk and high adventure, the birth of a new Space Age, fueled by some of the world's richest men as they struggle to end governments' monopoly on the cosmos. The Space Barons is also a story of rivalry-hard-charging startups warring with established contractors, and the personal clashes of the leaders of this new space movement, particularly Musk and Bezos, as they aim for the moon and Mars and beyond.

30 review for The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos

  1. 4 out of 5

    JG (The Introverted Reader)

    3.5 stars rounded up. This was fascinating, but I'm not sure why it's called Space Baron*S*. The author came across as a huge fan of Elon Musk; I would guess at least 80% of the book is about Musk and SpaceX. That could be because SpaceX seems to be the company that's really speeding forward, or maybe because Bezos and BlueOrigin are very secretive. It could also be because Bezos owns the Washington Post, where the author works. He might be trying so hard to be balanced and fair in hi 3.5 stars rounded up. This was fascinating, but I'm not sure why it's called Space Baron*S*. The author came across as a huge fan of Elon Musk; I would guess at least 80% of the book is about Musk and SpaceX. That could be because SpaceX seems to be the company that's really speeding forward, or maybe because Bezos and BlueOrigin are very secretive. It could also be because Bezos owns the Washington Post, where the author works. He might be trying so hard to be balanced and fair in his reporting that he focused too much on Musk instead. Branson's Virgin Galactic and Paul Allen's company (the name escapes me and I've returned the book already), are barely footnotes. The whole thing could have used one more good copyedit; some things were worded really awkwardly (As I suspect this review is. Forgive a tired reviewer, please), and sometimes the same information was presented twice in quick succession. Still, I enjoyed learning more about our private sector space companies and found myself idly daydreaming about taking a vacation on the moon when I'm an old woman. These guys believe it will happen, and it's impossible not to share their dreams.

  2. 4 out of 5

    ☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~ ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣

    While I love everything that has to do with space era (which, sadly, isn't anywhere in the observable future, since something went wrong at some point, somewhere), business, innovation, new tech, daring business undertakings, etc etc... But, somehow, this book, even though it's supposed to combine all of this, didn't click with me. Instead, I felt like I was reading a monstrously overblown article from some newspaper. Some ingredients were missing. I do appreciate that the facts were all right-i While I love everything that has to do with space era (which, sadly, isn't anywhere in the observable future, since something went wrong at some point, somewhere), business, innovation, new tech, daring business undertakings, etc etc... But, somehow, this book, even though it's supposed to combine all of this, didn't click with me. Instead, I felt like I was reading a monstrously overblown article from some newspaper. Some ingredients were missing. I do appreciate that the facts were all right-ish, they did this, invested that, the rocket blew up, another one returned and had legs, the citric acid was important, blah blah. Something was still missing, some core details, backgrounds in other places. It felt like the author was preoccupied with stuff other than what he wrote. Many things felt to be edited out. Overall starting rating: 5 stars +1 star: space and business -1 star: disjointedness and overall bad, no, horrible structure. -1 star: things that felt edited out -1 star: unimportant or maybe important details left hanging +1 star: facts used, hallelujah -1 star: abruptness of topics changes and the overall journalist approach to writing, the whole read as unfinished draft. Final rating: 3 stars. Q: “Paul, isn’t this better than the best sex you ever had?” Branson asked him, as the spaceship climbed higher. “If I was this anxious during any kind of interpersonal activity, I couldn’t enjoy it very much,” Allen thought. (c) Q: AND SO THE moon. Again, the moon. The greatest achievement in the history of humankind, revisited. Only now, so much time had passed that the twelve Apollo astronauts who had walked on the lunar surface were dying off, one by one. James Irwin, Apollo 15, was the first to go, in 1991. Alan Shepard, Apollo 14, died seven years later. Pete Conrad, Apollo 12, passed a year after that. Then Neil Armstrong, Apollo 11. Then Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14. In January 2017, Gene Cernan, Apollo 17, the last man to walk on the moon, died. (c) Q: “We believe space mining is still a long way from commercial viability, but it has the potential to further ease access to space and facilitate an in-space manufacturing economy,” an analyst for Goldman Sachs wrote in a note to investors. “Space mining could be more realistic than perceived… a single asteroid the size of a football field could contain $25 billion to $50 billion worth of platinum.” (c) Q: Google executives Larry Page and Eric Schmidt invested in Planetary Resources, which planned to mine asteroids. Filled with precious metals, the asteroids are the “diamonds in the rough of the solar system,” Eric Anderson, the company’s cofounder, told CNBC. Asteroids have “rare metals, industrial metals and even fuels,” he said, “so we could create gas stations in space that would enable us to travel throughout the solar system just like Star Trek.” (c) Q: FOR WEEKS, MUSK and a small SWAT team of SpaceX employees had spent their Saturdays working on the Mars architecture, and the presentation. But they seemed to overlook a key detail—the Q & A session that would follow. … Another guy told Musk he wanted to give him a comic book about the “first man on Mars, just like you.” But he couldn’t get by the guards protecting the stage, and asked, “Should I just throw this onto the stage?” Then there was the woman who asked, “On behalf of all the ladies, can I go upstairs and give you a kiss, a good luck kiss?” Musk shifted stiffly as the crowd started whooping and hollering, as if at a brothel. “Thank you,” he offered, awkwardly. “Appreciate the thought.” (c) Why is this an issue, really? Q&A sessions can include lots of weirdness and still not be a doozy. This one definitely wasn't, so what was the author trying to tell in this paragraph? Q: For all its accomplishments, NASA could no longer lay exclusive claim to the title. The space shuttle program had been a compromise that didn’t deliver on its goal of providing reliable, low-cost access to space. It was pricey and dangerous, taking the lives of fourteen astronauts. Bush’s Constellation program, which was supposed to take humans back to the moon, had been killed. NASA’s replacement program, which was supposed to get to Mars, didn’t seem within decades of doing so with the overbudget, behind-schedule SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft. Musk, then, filled a void that was larger than his space company. (c) Q: They were a mix of marketing and fantasy that went viral, a sign of the emergence of a new leader in human space travel. (c) Q: Investors, long leery of the risky industry, started to wade in. In 2014, the global space economy totaled $330 billion, a 9 percent jump from the previous year and up from $176 billion in 2005, according to the Space Foundation, a nonprofit space advocacy organization. In 2015, Google and Fidelity invested $1 billion in SpaceX, backing another of Musk’s ventures: a bold plan to build a constellation of thousands of small satellites that would swarm over Earth, beaming the Internet to remote parts of the world. (c) Q: For decades, the engine was the most important part of the rocket. But this rocket had something altogether different, something that had not been necessary before. This rocket had legs. (c) And? What for, how did it fit into the design, what was it about, why was it needed, did it improve anything? Ugh! Q: SpaceX had demonstrated it—Pad 40 alone was a master class in creativity, not to mention the innovative ways it had built its rockets in-house. What, she wanted to know, was Blue Origin’s secret? The answer, in part, was citric acid. For a while the company had been using a toxic cleaner for its engine nozzles, which it intended to reuse. But that cleaner was expensive and difficult to handle—it had to be used in a separate, clean room because it was so toxic. Then someone discovered that citric acid worked just as well. So, the company started buying it by the gallon, an easier, less expensive solution that worked better. “Now I’m the largest purchaser of lemon juice in the country,” (c)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Science (Fiction) Comedy Horror and Fantasy Geek/Nerd a.k.a Mario

    After decades of state delays, the visionaries are turning to Mars cities and asteroid mining. Please note that I have put the original German text to the end of this review. Just if you might be interested. Science fiction, especially space operas, hard science fiction, and the classic series, have dealt with the issue in a vast variety of ways. Which variants will prevail in which time frame is the exciting question. Where, in principle, it is more likely that the cultura After decades of state delays, the visionaries are turning to Mars cities and asteroid mining. Please note that I have put the original German text to the end of this review. Just if you might be interested. Science fiction, especially space operas, hard science fiction, and the classic series, have dealt with the issue in a vast variety of ways. Which variants will prevail in which time frame is the exciting question. Where, in principle, it is more likely that the cultural and ideological barriers will increase with spatial separation by the vacuum between colonized planets. Every visionary and thus also the group pursue ideologically and economically different approaches to implementation. Accordingly, different professional competencies, blind spots, and individual mistakes arise. The research must also be adapted to the core areas of the company so that diversity is still increasing. At the same time, however, often the same developments are researched several times by different players. Even ideologically, depending on the company´s philosophy, the emphasis seems to be shifting additionally. The sociological, political and economic components play an underestimated role. Not only ideological but also economic misconceptions can delay development. Whether the opponents see the despair of their faith or a threat to their economic concept, remains the same. The damage in the delay of development is done in both cases. These factors have led to inglorious deletions and budget cuts in space programs, especially in the previous government budgets. So much about the worldwide far too long starting phase for space programs. The main focus of the book is on Musk, which may also be due to its extroversion. About a quiet man like Bezos, who prefers to remain silent in business, is just less to find and secrecy is prioritized. Speaking of a conflict of interest for the author to stay objective, because Bezos owns the Washington Post where the writer works, would be too far-flung and speculative. By contrast, Richard Branson and Paul Allen polarize less, though Branson is as compelling as Musk. But his space tourism is not so visionary put in relation to the other concepts. Conceptually I am purely subjective and intuitive with Bezo's opinion. First, the industrial infrastructure for mass production in space has to be created. Without asteroid mining and terraforming, Musk's concept of a Martian city is too risky both technologically as well as economically. Only when one can produce and grow independently, one has achieved true independence and, above all, survivability. Besides, economic dependencies and extortions on Earth often led to conflicts in the past. Maybe a bad way to start with new colonies that start revolutions after decades. All already had, didn´t work well. What delayed development in recent decades, apart from the lack of funding, was above all the lack of innovation. Just as incalculable as the breadth of inventions in the 21st century is their utilization for space travel. The main focus will first be limited to terrestrial use until one can start manufacturing in larger capacities for space and especially in space. Nanomaterials, graphene and quantum computers will go the same way as industrial steel, microprocessors or plain mirrors. It takes time to perfect and automate the manufacturing process, but then it can be produced 24 hours a day in each environment. Concerning monopolization, it is more extreme than ever. Every nation on earth could claim colonies with a few ships in the past. Other companies could produce similar products and compete with the first ones in the market. But acquiring the, partially patented, knowledge about space technologies via reverse engineering is almost impossible in the time necessary to be competitive. The effect is compounded by revenues from resource extraction, terraforming, development, and occupation of new territories and asteroid mining. What cements the lead is the advantage of being able to test all new technologies and devices directly on site, or in this case, the different vicinities. The extremely expensive laboratories and experimental setups, as on earth, are not necessary. And whoever is first on Mars will most probably be the first to enter all other worlds. Not to mention the prices that can be charged for all private and state customers. Also, the corporations and states will also seek their legal departments or international courts to influence the newly defined laws in their favor. If one imagines the power already concentrated on earth in very few hands, one can not rudimentarily imagine its extent in a few hundred years. The first person on a planet also has no reason to fear any controllers who look at his fingers. No witness, no judge, no crime. Only a few huge companies, often in cooperation with large states and their military and exclusive supply contracts, will be able to do so. Thus, the development of infinite vastness will be endowed with finite capacities and opportunities for all smaller companies, states, and individuals. Similar to many of the science fiction works that inspired and delighted the great visionaries as young people. And without which these endeavors might never have started so early on this massive scale. And in the far retrospective out of a long time in the future, this delay could have been fatal in many ways. Because as so often applies: All eggs in a basket = Bad idea. Nach Jahrzehnten staatlicher Verzögerung heben die Visionäre zu Marsstädten und Asteroidenbergbau ab. Science Fiction, insbesondere Space Operas, Hard Science Fiction und die klassischen Serien, haben die Thematik in verschiedensten Spielarten ausgebreitet. Welche Varianten sich in welcher Zeitspanne durchsetzen werden, ist die spannende Frage. Wobei es grundsätzlich wahrscheinlicher ist, dass sich die kulturellen und ideologischen Schranken bei räumlicher Trennung durch Vakuum zwischen kolonialisierten Planeten verstärken. Jeder Visionär und damit auch der Konzern verfolgen ideologisch und ökonomisch verschiedene Ansätze zur Umsetzung. Entsprechend entstehen verschiedene Fachkompetenzen, blinde Flecken und individuelle Fehler. Die Forschung muss auch auf die Kerngebiete der Firma adaptiert werden, so dass die Diversität noch steigt. Gleichzeitig aber oft mehrfach an denselben Entwicklungen geforscht wird. Selbst ideologisch scheint sich je nach Firmenphilosophie die Schwerpunktsetzung zusätzlich zu verschieben. Dabei spielt die soziologische, politische und ökonomische Komponente eine unterschätzte Rolle. Nicht nur ideologische, sondern auch wirtschaftliche Falschannahmen können die Entwicklung verzögern. Ob die Gegner eine Anzweiflung ihres Glaubens oder eine Gefährdung ihres Wirtschaftskonzepts sehen, bleibt sich gleich. Der Schaden in der Verzögerung der Entwicklung wird in beiden Fällen angerichtet. Insbesondere in den bisherigen staatlichen Programmen haben diese Faktoren zu unrühmlichen Streichungen und Budgetkürzungen bei den Raumfahrtprogrammen geführt. Der Hauptfokus des Buches liegt auf Musk, was auch an dessen Extrovertiertheit liegen dürfte. Von einem ruhigen Mann wie Bezos, der sich auch geschäftlich lieber in Schweigen hüllt, ist schlicht weniger zu finden. Von einem Interessenskonflikt zu sprechen, weil Bezos die Washington Post gehört bei der der Autor arbeitet, wäre zu weit gegriffen und spekulativ. Richard Branson und Paul Allen hingegen polarisieren im Gegensatz dazu weniger, obwohl Branson ebenso mitreißend wie Musk ist. Aber sein Weltraumtourismus ist in Relation gesetzt nicht so visionär. Vom Konzept her bin ich rein subjektiv und intuitiv Bezos Meinung. Es muss zuerst die industrielle Infrastruktur für die Massenfertigung vor Ort im Weltraum geschaffen werden. Ohne Asteroidenbergbau und Terraforming ist Musks Konzept einer Marsstadt sowohl technologisch als auch ökonomisch zu riskant. Erst wenn man autark produzieren und damit wachsen kann, hat man wahre Unabhängigkeit und vor allem Überlebensfähigkeit erreicht. Noch dazu führten wirtschaftliche Abhängigkeiten und Erpressungen auf der Erde in der Vergangenheit oft genug zu Konflikten. Was die Entwicklung in den letzten Jahrzehnten verzögerte waren neben der mangelnden Finanzierung vor allem die fehlenden Innovationen. Ebenso unabsehbar wie die Breite der Erfindungen im 21 Jahrhundert ist deren Nutzbarmachung für die Raumfahrt. Das Hauptaugenmerk wird zuerst auf eine terrestrische Nutzung beschränkt sein. Bis man beginnen kann, in größeren Kapazitäten für die Raumfahrt zu fertigen. Nanomaterialien, Graphen und Quantencomputer werden den gleichen Weg wie Industriestahl, Mikroprozessoren oder schlichte Spiegel gehen. Bis zur Perfektionierung und Automatisierung des Fertigungsprozesses dauert es seine Zeit, aber dann kann 24 Stunden am Tag produziert werden. Es ist von der Monopolisierung her noch extremer als jemals zuvor. Jede Nation konnte auf der Erde mit ein paar Schiffen Kolonien beanspruchen. Andere Firmen konnten ähnliche Produkte herstellen und mit den Ersten am Markt konkurrieren. Aber das einmal erworbene und teils patentierte Wissen rund um die Raumfahrt über reverse engineering zu erwerben, ist beinahe unmöglich. Was den Effekt noch verstärkt, sind die Einnahmen aus Rohstoffabbau, Terraforming, Erschließung und Inbesitznahme neuer Territorien und Asteroidenbergbau. Was den Vorsprung endgültig zementiert, ist der Vorteil, alle Technologien und Geräte direkt vor Ort zu testen. Die extrem teuren Labore und Versuchsaufbauten wie auf der Erde sind nicht notwendig. Und wer als erster auf dem Mars ist, wird auch alle anderen Welten als erster betreten. Von den Preisen, die für sämtliche privaten und staatlichen Kunden verlangt werden können, ganz zu schweigen. Ergänzend werden die Konzerne und Staaten auch ihre Rechtsabteilungen beziehungsweise internationalen Gerichtshöfe bemühen, um die neu zu definierenden Gesetze zu ihren Gunsten zu beeinflussen. Wenn man sich die auf Erden bereits in sehr wenigen Händen konzentrierte Macht vorstellt, kann man deren Ausmaß in ein paar Hundert Jahren nicht ansatzweise ermessen. Der Erste auf einem Planeten hat weiters keinerlei Kontrollinstanzen zu befürchten, die ihm auf die Finger schauen. Nur wenige sehr große Firmen, häufig in Kooperation mit Großstaaten und deren Militär und exklusiven Lieferverträgen, werden dazu in der Lage sein. Somit wird die Erschließung unendlicher Weiten mit sehr endlichen Kapazitäten und Möglichkeiten für alle kleineren Firmen, Staaten und Privatpersonen ausgestattet sein. Ähnlich wie in vielen der Science Fiction Werke, die die großen Visionäre als junge Menschen begeisterten und inspirierten. Und ohne die diese Unterfangen vielleicht nie so früh in diesem Ausmaß begonnen worden wären. Und diese Verzögerung hätte sich, in der Retrospektive, auf mannigfache Weise rächen können. Denn wie so oft gilt: Alle Eier in einem Korb: Schlechte Idee.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dee Arr

    The full title of this book, The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos, emphasizes the battle between two of the main figures in the book. While I understand the name-dropping can potentially help in selling more copies, I feel it is important to mention others featured in the book: Paul Allen (Microsoft co-founder), Burt Rutan (not a “Baron,” but important for his role), and Sir Richard Branson (Virgin Group). I chose to read this book because of m The full title of this book, The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos, emphasizes the battle between two of the main figures in the book. While I understand the name-dropping can potentially help in selling more copies, I feel it is important to mention others featured in the book: Paul Allen (Microsoft co-founder), Burt Rutan (not a “Baron,” but important for his role), and Sir Richard Branson (Virgin Group). I chose to read this book because of my previous interest in space exploration/colonization, which unfortunately did not extend much further than what NASA had accomplished. While I was aware of three of the names involved (Bezos, Musk, and Branson), I did not know who had accomplished what. Author Christian Davenport’s book helped to fill in my knowledge gaps. I questioned whether the book would be on the dry side, but the author’s storytelling style soon proved me wrong. Mr. Davenport lists an extensive number of sources he employed to write the book, along with interviews with the people directly involved in this new space race involving individuals and companies. The end result is an inside look at the dreams and fears along with the failures and successes of each entrepreneur. All possess the ultimate goal of enabling mankind to be able to safely travel in space, yet each also has variations of what he believes can be possible. The author not only details what has happened, he outlines the future plans of each company. I didn’t find this to be a quick read, as there was much to absorb. That said, I found the book to be engaging, and I didn’t feel the urge to speed-read through the content. Mr. Davenport presents the information as if it were a book-length feature article. Extremely informative for anyone wishing to learn what has been going on with the space program over the last twenty years. Four stars. My thanks to NetGalley and Perseus Books (Public Affairs) for an advance copy of this book (Publish Date: April 17, 2018).

  5. 4 out of 5

    Carlos

    3.5 stars for this book. This is a very interesting read if you are into space exploration and the advances the private industry is doing towards the goal of sending humans to mars soon. The book focuses on big names like Jeff Bezos and Elon musk and 2 other billionaires and the work their companies are doing , the book gets repetitive at times and doesn’t really have anything new after the first 100 pages but like I stated before if you are into space and eccentric billionaires then this is the 3.5 stars for this book. This is a very interesting read if you are into space exploration and the advances the private industry is doing towards the goal of sending humans to mars soon. The book focuses on big names like Jeff Bezos and Elon musk and 2 other billionaires and the work their companies are doing , the book gets repetitive at times and doesn’t really have anything new after the first 100 pages but like I stated before if you are into space and eccentric billionaires then this is the book for you .

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nikki "The Crazie Betty" V.

    I requested this book from Netgalley for a few different reasons. The number one reason being that I’m slightly obsessed with humanity’s scientific journey to attempt to get us in to space. My husband has heard me say more than once that, given the opportunity, I would gladly upend my life and go live on Mars to assist in terraforming. I’ve just always been interested in space, and space exploration and ultimately am a little resentful of the fact that I will most likely never get to see what’s I requested this book from Netgalley for a few different reasons. The number one reason being that I’m slightly obsessed with humanity’s scientific journey to attempt to get us in to space. My husband has heard me say more than once that, given the opportunity, I would gladly upend my life and go live on Mars to assist in terraforming. I’ve just always been interested in space, and space exploration and ultimately am a little resentful of the fact that I will most likely never get to see what’s beyond our Earth with my own eyes. I wanted to know what future generations have to look forward to with regard to space travel, and how we’re going to get there. I’m also a huge fan of Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, so part of me requesting this was a little bit of fangirling. Ultimately this ended up being an exceptionally interesting read about the engineering, politics, social-economics, and costs involved with getting us into space as a long-term solution for habitation and reparation to our Earth. Both of these men are scary smart and I truly believe that if anyone is going to get us into space, it’s going to be these 2. They’ve both had huge battles to get to where they are, whether it be using their own personal money to fund their space projects, fighting NASA for the right to do so, or suing the government for asinine contractual requirements and pressures. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in what our current space program looks like, and how the commercialization of space flight is ultimately going to be what gets us off our blue planet. Received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ian

    Over the last decade I’ve occasionally seen news items relating to Space X or Virgin Galactic, but hadn’t paid them too much attention. I’m more engaged with the subject now, having read this remarkable story of how a group of billionaire business rivals - each working separately – created start-up space technology companies that have added a new dimension to the space industry. The book predominantly features the pugnacious Elon Musk, the flamboyant Richard Branson, and quiet man Jeff Bezos. Mi Over the last decade I’ve occasionally seen news items relating to Space X or Virgin Galactic, but hadn’t paid them too much attention. I’m more engaged with the subject now, having read this remarkable story of how a group of billionaire business rivals - each working separately – created start-up space technology companies that have added a new dimension to the space industry. The book predominantly features the pugnacious Elon Musk, the flamboyant Richard Branson, and quiet man Jeff Bezos. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is another who features. As boys they were all mesmerised by space exploration, and as adults each has used their enormous wealth to pursue that dream. As the author points out, they were also driven by a feeling that NASA, that once-visionary organisation, had become ossified and risk averse. In the 1970s everyone imagined there would be people living in moon bases by the 21st century. Throughout the book the author uses the fable of The Hare and the Tortoise to illustrate the differing approaches of Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. Two years ago Elon Musk announced his audacious plan to take humans to Mars by 2025. In contrast Bezos prefers to talk only “when he has something to talk about.” They are a real contrast. For the moment though, the hare still seems to be holding the lead. The book seems to have been well-researched and doesn’t wander off its chosen subject. It’s also pitched at a suitable level for the general reader. One of the messages I picked up was how much truth remains in the old cliché, “Space is Hard.” If I have a criticism, it’s that I didn’t find the early part a particularly quick read. Overall though I enjoyed it. After finishing I actually went onto Facebook and followed the pages for Space X, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic. A book that gets me to do that has to rate pretty highly.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Charles

    An over-hyped, biased reportage The business of space, shown mostly in the exploits of three billionaires, Elon Musk, of SpaceX, Jeff Bezos of Blue Origin, and Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic. A comprehensive treatment by the author of the commercial spaceflight revolution, more focused on the characters and personalities of the major players than the technology. If you are a fan of privatization, this book will be of great interest, but to me it is sounding a bit over-hyped. The narrati An over-hyped, biased reportage The business of space, shown mostly in the exploits of three billionaires, Elon Musk, of SpaceX, Jeff Bezos of Blue Origin, and Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic. A comprehensive treatment by the author of the commercial spaceflight revolution, more focused on the characters and personalities of the major players than the technology. If you are a fan of privatization, this book will be of great interest, but to me it is sounding a bit over-hyped. The narrative is classic libertarianism advertisement: Private industry, “astropreneurs with skin in the game” will come to the rescue of big government, get Nasa out of the game and get us into space. This is not in fact, what Elon Musk among other people has said. He has expressed a profound admiration for NASA and stated that his space investments should advocate expanding and improving NASA's capability. So much for unbiased reportage. Space doesn’t exist in isolation from society and the needs of humanity. And one can legitimately ask if space exploration, like healthcare, education, or prisons, will benefit or suffer from having the profit motive injected into it. I may be in the minority here, but the writing, IMO was less than engaging, and some of the fanboy clichés were cringeworthy.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Excellent narrative, both the broader context and reporting of key events.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Missy

    Space Barons failed to capture my interest in the long run. The initial chapters about Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos weren't well organized, but they had enough interesting bits that I kept coming back to the book. When Burt Rutan's story was introduced, however, the author lost me. Mr. Davenport followed the same patten too many times: tell a bit of a story, introduce a new character, swing back in time to fill in some history of the character, then proceed in the main story on to the next character Space Barons failed to capture my interest in the long run. The initial chapters about Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos weren't well organized, but they had enough interesting bits that I kept coming back to the book. When Burt Rutan's story was introduced, however, the author lost me. Mr. Davenport followed the same patten too many times: tell a bit of a story, introduce a new character, swing back in time to fill in some history of the character, then proceed in the main story on to the next character. Much about the failed progress of NASA was repeated again and again. This is an interesting topic, but it needs to be organized differently. I read an advanced readers copy provided by NetGalley. #Space Barons #NetGalley

  11. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    3.5 stars. Despite what the subtitle suggests, Davenport's book focuses on four billionaires -- Musk, Bezos, Paul Allen, and Richard Branson -- and plays off of two parables -- the tortoise and the hare and David and Goliath -- to explain how their efforts to commercialize space has(n't) worked out. The Goliath of the space industry is the revolving door between the Pentagon, NASA, and the dominate industry players, Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Musk sued the Department of Defense and NASA several 3.5 stars. Despite what the subtitle suggests, Davenport's book focuses on four billionaires -- Musk, Bezos, Paul Allen, and Richard Branson -- and plays off of two parables -- the tortoise and the hare and David and Goliath -- to explain how their efforts to commercialize space has(n't) worked out. The Goliath of the space industry is the revolving door between the Pentagon, NASA, and the dominate industry players, Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Musk sued the Department of Defense and NASA several times over no bid contracts, setting him up to be the hero of the story. (To the book’s detriment, Musk’s abusive behavior in the workplace is glossed over as being a symptom of his genius.) Yet, as Davenport documents, Musk’ role as the hare versus Bezos’ tortoise turns SpaceX into the Goliath. The narrative shifts as more information about Bezos’ work is available – Blue Origin is notoriously secretive – and the book’s effusive praise for Musk starts to balance out. At this point, more information about Allen and Branson’s efforts are also included in the book, although neither story is ever fully interwoven into Davenport’s tortoise-hare and David-Goliath structure. It makes for a clunky narrative; more Sunday feature than cohesive book. Still, despite the clunky narrative, Davenport’s book offered this commercial space novice quite the education. It’s a great overview, and Davenport’s tradecraft as a journalist is evident as he offers enough technical detail to be interesting but not overwhelming. I’m curious to learn more about Bezos and Musk’s plans for space, even if so far that curiosity has only extended to following SpaceX and Blue Origin on Twitter.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Lackey

    Great overview and current summary of one of the most interesting engineering and business achievements going on right now — the new space race, in particular Elon Musk and SpaceX as well as Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin, Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic, and some earlier (Beal) and more ancillary companies. In the 1990s if I’d thought space would someday be something other than NASA dead end shuttle bullshit, I probably would have gone into aerospace rather than computing and computer security. Great overview and current summary of one of the most interesting engineering and business achievements going on right now — the new space race, in particular Elon Musk and SpaceX as well as Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin, Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic, and some earlier (Beal) and more ancillary companies. In the 1990s if I’d thought space would someday be something other than NASA dead end shuttle bullshit, I probably would have gone into aerospace rather than computing and computer security. While computing and networks are one of the big engineering achievements in their own right (and in the form of AI, possibly greater than space, and on par with life extension as most important area of development), there is just something about space which makes it appealing.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Scottsdale Public Library

    As a kid, did you ever say to yourself, “Someday, I’m going to Mars.” Well, hello, we’re almost there and it’s not on the public’s dime as people used to complain about, it’s on Elon Musk’s many dimes and Jeff Bezo’s and other future-thinking minds. “The Space Barons…” should wake all of us up and get us all back on track to not only thinking about what we could do if something serious did happen to our planet Earth, but to doing something about it now. Musk and Bezo as children made for interes As a kid, did you ever say to yourself, “Someday, I’m going to Mars.” Well, hello, we’re almost there and it’s not on the public’s dime as people used to complain about, it’s on Elon Musk’s many dimes and Jeff Bezo’s and other future-thinking minds. “The Space Barons…” should wake all of us up and get us all back on track to not only thinking about what we could do if something serious did happen to our planet Earth, but to doing something about it now. Musk and Bezo as children made for interesting reading. This is one book you won’t want to put down until it’s finished. -Anna Q.L.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tasos Manouras

    This book Chronicles the "race to space". It is a book written in a news article fashion. Fun to read, fast paced and well researched. I would like it more if there was more of the Vision, of the 3 barons-protagonists of the book, but unfortunately the writer only shares parts of interviews, tweets and events that took place.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ro

    I am deeply impressed with the author's ability to write a book while also slobbering over the cocks of three billionaires at the same time. I aspire to have this level of multi-tasking ability someday! Seriously though, this is some of the fluffiest and most inane piece of "journalism" I've ever read. I picked up this book hoping for an educational look at the nature of the space industry, its political economy, the technical challenges of building spacecrafts, etc. The book has a thin layer of I am deeply impressed with the author's ability to write a book while also slobbering over the cocks of three billionaires at the same time. I aspire to have this level of multi-tasking ability someday! Seriously though, this is some of the fluffiest and most inane piece of "journalism" I've ever read. I picked up this book hoping for an educational look at the nature of the space industry, its political economy, the technical challenges of building spacecrafts, etc. The book has a thin layer of all this, but its coating what is a mostly hollow and childish puff piece about how cool and sexy billionaires like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are. A sizeable chunk of the book is just copy-pasted from corporate press releases and publicity speeches, as well as the vague hopes and dreams of the various CEOs and how X and Y events in their childhood inspired them or whatever. Anyways if know absolutely nothing about space travel, and are allergic to any level of depth or analysis, and are mainly interested in helping develop the personality cults of already cultish billionaires, this is the book for you! If not, then you're better off reading the Wikipedia articles about these companies, you'll get way more information in a much shorter and less frustrating amount of time.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Chris Via

    The latest iPhone is great, but the real buzz in science and technology is the plight to colonize Mars. Perhaps still too far-fetched for some, the race to be the first commercial shuttle between Earth and Mars is a very real and burgeoning enterprise, with unthinkable funds being expended (and sometimes exploded) along the way. Recent movies and books such as Interstellar (2014), The Martian (2011; 2014), and The Terranauts (2016) have begun to imbue collective popular consciousness with the rather old space ambitions, but The latest iPhone is great, but the real buzz in science and technology is the plight to colonize Mars. Perhaps still too far-fetched for some, the race to be the first commercial shuttle between Earth and Mars is a very real and burgeoning enterprise, with unthinkable funds being expended (and sometimes exploded) along the way. Recent movies and books such as Interstellar (2014), The Martian (2011; 2014), and The Terranauts (2016) have begun to imbue collective popular consciousness with the rather old space ambitions, but it is often hard to separate fact from fiction when they are so tightly coupled. This is where Christian Davenport’s forthcoming book, The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos, fills a rapidly widening void. A reporter for the Washington Post, Davenport has extensive material and history from which to work, and a reporter’s knack for stating facts and extracting the perfect array of material to tell the story. Read full review: http://www.chrisviabookreviews.com/20...

  17. 5 out of 5

    Francis Tapon

    My wife is from Cameroon so she thrilled that the first creature that America sent into orbit was from Cameroon. The creature was named Enos. He was a chimp from Cameroon. He flew aboard the Mercury-Atlas 5 on November 29, 1961. Enos logged three hours and 21 minutes in space. He paved the way for the first American orbital flight just three months later. I’m a fan of space exploration and astronomy. I’m a even bigger fan of the privatization of spaceflight so I’ve been fol My wife is from Cameroon so she thrilled that the first creature that America sent into orbit was from Cameroon. The creature was named Enos. He was a chimp from Cameroon. He flew aboard the Mercury-Atlas 5 on November 29, 1961. Enos logged three hours and 21 minutes in space. He paved the way for the first American orbital flight just three months later. I’m a fan of space exploration and astronomy. I’m a even bigger fan of the privatization of spaceflight so I’ve been following the news fairly closely. Still, just like I didn’t know about Enos the chimp, Christian Davenport’s upcoming book, Space Barons: Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos, delivers plenty of facts that I didn’t know about. If you’ve been meticulously following the headlines, then I suppose there’s little new in Davenport’s book. Test yourself. Did you know that . . . . . . Jeff Bezos nearly died in a helicopter crash? . . . the big aerospace giants (e.g., Boeing) called SpaceX an “ankle biter” and that Elon Musk would basically call Blue Origin the same thing years later? . . . Bezos and Musk are rocket geeks but that Richard Branson knows little about them? . . . Paul Allen loves space exploration but is terrified of the risk of losing a human life? . . . Bezos is the turtle and Musk is the hare? Soviet space feats Although it's not mentioned in the book, I recently learned that Americans were NOT the first to land something on the moon. The Soviets were. They landed Luna 2 on the moon's surface a stunning 10 years before Apollo 11 (the first humans to land on the moon). It's just more proof how we glorify our own country. I wonder if you grew up in Russia, you'd hear nonstop about Luna 2 but almost nothing about Apollo 11. Yes, it's more impressive to land humans on the moon and return to them safely to Earth than to crash an object into the moon, but we still ought to acknowledge the Soviet accomplishment and not ignore it. Fortunately, Americans do talk about Sputnik and Yuri Gagarin.Still, that's just the tip of the Soviet Space Program's iceberg. To quote Wikipedia: [The Soviets were] responsible for a number of pioneering accomplishments in space flight including the first intercontinental ballistic missile (R-7), first satellite (Sputnik 1), first animal in Earth orbit (the dog Laika on Sputnik 2), first human in space and Earth orbit (cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on Vostok 1), first woman in space and Earth orbit (cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova on Vostok 6), first spacewalk (cosmonaut Alexey Leonov on Voskhod 2), first Moon impact (Luna 2), first image of the far side of the moon (Luna 3) and unmanned lunar soft landing (Luna 9), first space rover (Lunokhod 1), first sample of lunar soil automatically extracted and brought to Earth (Luna 16), and first space station (Salyut 1). Further notable records included the first interplanetary probes: Venera 1 and Mars 1 to fly by Venus and Mars, respectively, Venera 3 and Mars 2 to impact the respective planet surface, and Venera 7and Mars 3 to make soft landings on these planets. So let's stop thinking that Americans were the only space pioneers. Sadly, Space Barons continues this sad tradition of ignoring the pioneering accomplishments of the Russians. For example, it doesn't even mention MirCorp, which sent the first space tourist (and wannabe space baron), Dennis Tito, to the International Space Station. Instead, Space Barons focuses mostly on Bezos and Musk since the biggest space barons today. The book discusses Paul Allen, Richard Branson, and Peter Diamandis. Since Elon Musk and SpaceX are such great marketers, you've probably heard a lot about them and seen some of their videos. What I like about Space Barons is that it delves into the mysterious Blue Origin. I just wish Davenport's interview with Bezos was a bit more revealing than it was. Fortunately, Blue Origin has come out of the closet and has shown off some amazing feats. Check out these two videos. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSDHM... This second video really could use narration/music and an altimeter, but it's still stunning. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZJgh... Blue Origin claims that they land at 1 mile per hour, but that landing certainly doesn't look that soft. It looks at least 5 miles per hour, if not 10. Regardless, Skywalker Manniquin survived. Space Barons does not mention several companies that plan to mine asteroids. That's a pity. Perhaps Davenport believes that other companies are too small and/or their leaders aren't true "barons" yet. Despite these shortcomings, I loved reading Space Barons. It's one of those rare books that I devoured. I read a book a week. This is one that was hard to put down. It's one of my favorite books that I read in 2017. Unfortunately, you won't be able to read it until April 17, 2018, which is when the book is made available to the public. The main downside of the book is that by 2020 it will be out of date since progress in space is happening quickly. So pre-order it today and read it once you get it. Verdict: 9/10 stars

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mal Warwick

    Not long ago, I reviewed Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance, and The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone. Both books are well done. They're the product of professional journalists who are good at what they do. But neither book comes close to Christian Davenport's superb new book, The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos, in offering insight into the personality of these two extraordinary Not long ago, I reviewed Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance, and The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone. Both books are well done. They're the product of professional journalists who are good at what they do. But neither book comes close to Christian Davenport's superb new book, The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos, in offering insight into the personality of these two extraordinary men who are the central characters in his book. Illuminating personal details The personal details about the lives of Musk and Bezos are abundant and highly revealing. For example, here is Davenport with an anecdote from the early life of Elon Musk: "He had such concentration that as a toddler in Montessori school, his teachers would have to pick him up—in his chair—to keep him moving from task to task." And this about Bezos: "His girlfriend from high school had once told an interviewer that Bezos had founded Amazon in order to make enough money to start a space company." Davenport notes that Bezos "conceded that there 'is some truth to that.'" The pivotal role of four private space companies Davenport's subject in The Space Barons is the pivotal role of four billionaires and the private space companies they've started in the emergence of the rejuvenated space industry. All four men envision lowering the cost of space travel and making it more accessible—and Davenport makes clear that they have taken great strides toward this goal. Although Musk and Bezos occupy center stage, Paul Allen (cofounder of Microsoft) and Richard Branson (the Virgin companies) also play large roles. Davenport tells the tale with great assurance in prose that is always lively and engaging. He interviewed all four of his subjects and many of their associates (and critics) as well. This is the remarkable story of four self-made billionaires whose great wealth and passion allowed them to pioneer space technology that NASA had grown too old and bureaucratic to develop itself. If humankind ever succeeds in populating the solar system, historians may conclude that the determination and resources of these men were largely responsible. Four distinctive personalities Musk, Bezos, Allen, and Branson are very different from one another, though each is undoubtedly brilliant in his own way, and at least three of the four are science fiction fans. Musk is the youngest of the lot—he was born in 1971—and by far the brashest and most impulsive. His company, SpaceX, has made the biggest splash to date and has generated by far the most revenue, but Musk has a bad habit of setting impossible deadlines for what he envisions as the principal goal of his efforts: building a city of one million people on Mars. He has also gotten his way at times only by suing NASA and the Pentagon. By contrast, Bezos and his company, Blue Origin, have been the tortoise to SpaceX's hare ("Slow is smooth and smooth is fast" as compared to "Head down. Plow through the line.") Bezos' highly secretive company has consistently been wary of publicizing its achievements. Both Musk and Bezos (born in 1964) envision traveling into space on their own rockets. Allen and Branson, who are older—born in 1953 and 1950, respectively—do not contemplate the trip to Mars that Musk hopes to take. Allen's part in the emergence of the new industry was for a time very limited by his fear that lives might be lost in the process; later, however, he staked out a unique project of his own: building a spaceplane larger than any airplane ever built. Branson, who is even more flamboyant than Musk, is all showman and marketer. His contribution was initially to promote the work of aircraft designer Burt Rutan, assuming the controlling interest in Rutan's company in place of Allen and only later getting into the business of building rockets, as Musk and Bezos have been doing for nearly two decades. Differing views of humanity's future in space Elon Musk is single-mindedly focused on building a large city on Mars. Jeff Bezos does not share this focus. "'There's all kinds of interesting stuff you can do around the solar system,'" he told Davenport, "'but the thing that's going to move the needle for humanity the most is mining near-Earth objects and building manufacturing infrastructure in place . . . That's the big thing.'" Given the obstacles to living on the surface of Mars that I have learned through other reading, I tend to agree with Bezos. About the author Christian Davenport is a reporter for the Washington Post, which is owned by Jeff Bezos. He acknowledges that it is "somewhat awkward writing a book about someone who could have you fired." However, his editor, Marty Baron, "has made it clear that [the Post] covers Jeff's companies as it would any other" and encouraged him to write the book. The Space Barons is Davenport's second.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Gary Moreau

    This book is a thorough and professional review of the current state of space flight in the US. As the cover promises, it’s a tale filled with the current rock stars of capitalism: Musk, Bezos, Branson, et al. And a few names that have made history but aren’t quite as familiar: Burt Rutan, Mike Melvill, and a host of others. It’s a book of tales, not technology, and that’s great for most readers. And the stories and subplots are magnificent and glorious; just what you’d expect from me This book is a thorough and professional review of the current state of space flight in the US. As the cover promises, it’s a tale filled with the current rock stars of capitalism: Musk, Bezos, Branson, et al. And a few names that have made history but aren’t quite as familiar: Burt Rutan, Mike Melvill, and a host of others. It’s a book of tales, not technology, and that’s great for most readers. And the stories and subplots are magnificent and glorious; just what you’d expect from men who have already achieved wealth and fame and now have the time and resources to feed the soulful flames that burn within. These are men not content to sit by the pool, but whose inner curiosity, in its immense proportions, define who they are. The book is well researched and easy to read. I definitely came away with a much fuller portrait of Musk and Bezos (a study in contrast, for sure), in particular, and while it would be impossible for any author not to have an opinion about the players, Davenport is a pro and works hard to simply tell their stories and not show his own cards. I only have two issues with the book. The first is common to all discussion involving the tech industry. There is a lot of effort expended differentiating between the commercial space industry (Musk & Bezos), the government (NASA), and the “contractors” (Boeing, LMT, & the military-industrial complex). The commercial companies (particularly SpaceX) are, of course, the quixotic “everyman,” the feisty, never-sleeps underdog who refuses to give in to convention and who is obsessed with saving money and making time. In that narrative, NASA and the contractors are old, overweight, slow, expensive, and risk-averse. It’s the now familiar Silicon Valley (the figurative SV) narrative and it’s starting to sound a bit over-hyped and dated. Narrative is a function of perspective. Replacing the obscenely expensive latch previously used on the nose cone by the grumpy old men with the one used on the stall doors in the bathroom sounds ingenious; until it fails and we discover that the latch was expensive for a reason. It’s not the wrong idea, mind you. But the distinction between genius and rash judgment can be a subtle one that is only apparent with hindsight. Which brings me to the second concern. There is an underlying implication that NASA and the contractors all get their money from the taxpayers but the "commercial" companies do not. The “astropreneurs”, in other words, have skin in the game and according to the SV narrative, that is the essence of genius and value. And that, too, is true to a point. But all of this delightful technology ultimately comes from the American people. All of the engineers, whichever entity they work for, were all educated in large part with taxpayer funds, they drive on taxpayer-funded roads, they enjoy the protection of taxpayer-funded defense, etc. It’s not that the entrepreneurial perspective is false, but it is often over-stated for the world we live in. Whether we accept it or not, we now live in a collective society; made all the more collective by technology. And on a related note, of course, there is a libertarian message from the tech entrepreneurs – regulation will kill the industry and the opportunity that is space. Again the narrative is classic tech libertarianism. But space doesn’t exist in isolation any more than tech ultimately does. If a commercial rocket plunges into a populated area, the fact is that the government/taxpayer will be expected to come to the rescue. I am as anguished by the US lack of commitment to space as any of the people in the book. I was a teenager when Armstrong walked on the moon and I remember it vividly. It was liberating for every man, woman, and child on the planet in a way almost nothing since has been, although the fall of the Berlin Wall came close. But we were able to do it, in part, because we responded to President Kennedy’s bold challenge as a nation. It was a collective effort. I think the space entrepreneurs covered in this book are remarkable men and women. They represent a core element of the American spirit. But at the heart of that same spirit is another American ideal; “It is amazing what can be accomplished if we don’t worry who gets the credit for it.”

  20. 5 out of 5

    Anna J. Shelby ☕

    The Space Barons tells the stories of the four billionaires - Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and Paul Allen. The companies profiled have set huge milestones as privateers in space industry. Davenport chronicles the tumult of the beginnings of Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, SpaceX and Mojave Aerospace Venture. The first liftoffs, explosions, failures and plain daring stubbornness of the mentioned, to advance in the field of space flights. Additional to interviews, following books influence The Space Barons tells the stories of the four billionaires - Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and Paul Allen. The companies profiled have set huge milestones as privateers in space industry. Davenport chronicles the tumult of the beginnings of Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, SpaceX and Mojave Aerospace Venture. The first liftoffs, explosions, failures and plain daring stubbornness of the mentioned, to advance in the field of space flights. Additional to interviews, following books influenced Space Barons: Ashlee Vance’s Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, Brad Stone’s The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, and Julian Guthrie’s How to Make a Spaceship: A Band of Renegades, an Epic Race, and the Birth of Private Spaceflight. I’ve read some of them but nonetheless it was a pleasure to read the stories again (cz, you know, I worship SapceX, no surprise here). The individual progress of the companies is well structured. The narrative takes turns, paying attention to each one of them in linear order. It’s informative, without diving into deep technical and engineering details. Emphasizing the vision to get humans to space (or orbit at least). SBs focus is on always on the persons, driving the companies. I would’ve liked more insight into the company’s daily business, marketing strategies and so on. The beef between Musk and Bezos deserves less pages – hardly anyone missed it on twitter or anywhere else on he internet, for that matter. A clear picture emerges by the end, from the first steps the industry has taken to the place we are in now. I liked the included photographs in the last pages but would’ve appreciated having them in the corresponding chapters. All in all, it was a nice, fast paced read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Casey

    A good book, providing an overview of the commercial space industry and the wealthy, visionary individuals who are its prime drivers. The author, journalist Christian Davenport, covers many layers. These include the differences between commercial enterprises and government projects along with the correlation of rushed development with high risk. In the process he manages to tell not just about the steady commercialization of space access but also looks at the role of dedicated and wealthy entrep A good book, providing an overview of the commercial space industry and the wealthy, visionary individuals who are its prime drivers. The author, journalist Christian Davenport, covers many layers. These include the differences between commercial enterprises and government projects along with the correlation of rushed development with high risk. In the process he manages to tell not just about the steady commercialization of space access but also looks at the role of dedicated and wealthy entrepreneurs in forcing that process. The narrative mostly concentrates on Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origins, and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. But there is a much wider cast, including NASA officials who are slowly moving from managers of their own products to contracting & regulating officials buying the services of private enterprise. The author demonstrates how the presence of market competition, leaping forward after the 2009 cancellation of NASA’s Constellation program, has unleashed a string of technological achievements which are making space access more affordable. A great book for those wanting to know more about the current state of space technology and the ways market competition is re-shaping how we view access to and use of space.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kristiana

    Space barons is a good compiling of the separate space ventures and companies currently in the business. It has a narrow focus, which is wise. I have not yet tired of hearing of spacex’s success, ingenuity, can do spirit or Elon musk’s biting charm and brazenness. Davenport’s approach fills in the gaps for me on what is going on in the different companies and how they came to be. I can’t imagine this is a satisfying read for someone who is already up to speed on the industry and excited abo Space barons is a good compiling of the separate space ventures and companies currently in the business. It has a narrow focus, which is wise. I have not yet tired of hearing of spacex’s success, ingenuity, can do spirit or Elon musk’s biting charm and brazenness. Davenport’s approach fills in the gaps for me on what is going on in the different companies and how they came to be. I can’t imagine this is a satisfying read for someone who is already up to speed on the industry and excited about its future. It’s an entry level overview of where we’ve been. It is venerable toward the history of space travel and the men who have been there, but it’s more a compilation of facts, providing few unique insights or critiques. Perhaps that wasn’t the point of the book. I enjoyed it, it’s an engaging quick read

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sandeep Tammu

    This is a disappointing book. Honestly, the book felt like it was rushed to publication. It doesn't have enough insights to warrant a special book. Tesla, Virgin Galactic are the currently the most hyped space-tech companies in the media. If you are into this topic, you must have already read enough about them through news articles and videos. This book reiterates the same events and does not have any compelling narrative. The only insightful thing I have found in this book are the stories about This is a disappointing book. Honestly, the book felt like it was rushed to publication. It doesn't have enough insights to warrant a special book. Tesla, Virgin Galactic are the currently the most hyped space-tech companies in the media. If you are into this topic, you must have already read enough about them through news articles and videos. This book reiterates the same events and does not have any compelling narrative. The only insightful thing I have found in this book are the stories about Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin. Unfortunately, they constitute very less in this book. I would suggest to skip this book, even if you don't know much about SpaceX or Virgin Galactic. I'm sure there are better books out there. Elon Musk's biography is a good start.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dylan Jeremiah

    This book was a decent timeline of the past and present of commercial space, unfortunately only the epilogue was looking ahead, predicting, and anticipating the future of space travel/colonization. Well researched and interesting to see the egos at play and the different "tortoise and hare" approaches by Bezos and Musk respectively. The narrative around Branson falls off about two thirds of the way through and isn't mentioned at the end despite being the third "rival" to Bezos and Musk. The pres This book was a decent timeline of the past and present of commercial space, unfortunately only the epilogue was looking ahead, predicting, and anticipating the future of space travel/colonization. Well researched and interesting to see the egos at play and the different "tortoise and hare" approaches by Bezos and Musk respectively. The narrative around Branson falls off about two thirds of the way through and isn't mentioned at the end despite being the third "rival" to Bezos and Musk. The presumed demise wasn't mentioned which would be interesting to see.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    A book like this is inherently a snapshot in time. This field is moving so quickly, there's no way to keep completely up-to-date in a book. For instance, it didn't include the flight of the Falcon Heavy, the announcements about Blue Moon, or the decision for Stratolaunch to cease operations. That doesn't really take away from the book, though, as it still provides useful background and detailed information up to a time.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    This is a really fascinating look into the world of the space industry. The author focuses on four main companies that started in the US in the early 2000s, which I found to be very interesting. While SpaceX has acquired a lot of fame in the past few years, I was surprised by how far back it went and how long it took to get to this point. The author also helped shine a light on some lesser-known companies like Blue Origin. Although the US-Russia space race ended, competition in the sp This is a really fascinating look into the world of the space industry. The author focuses on four main companies that started in the US in the early 2000s, which I found to be very interesting. While SpaceX has acquired a lot of fame in the past few years, I was surprised by how far back it went and how long it took to get to this point. The author also helped shine a light on some lesser-known companies like Blue Origin. Although the US-Russia space race ended, competition in the space industry has not ceased and is bringing many benefits that will have long-term value.

  27. 5 out of 5

    James Giammona

    Good interviews with Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Paul Allen. I hadn't known many of the Bezos stories (he almost died in a helicopter crash while scouting West Texas property!) and Blue Origin history or the Virgin Galactic history. I knew most of the Musk history from Vance's book. Worth reading!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kieran Donnelly

    A great story with incredible content, clearly well-researched. But the author's inclination to mix imperial and metric units when describing different aspects of the same object is infuriating. And he tends to repeat facts, sometimes even duplicating entire sentences, throughout the book. To top it all off, he misspelled Roald Amundsen's first name, writing Ronald.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    Davenport tells a fine story about Musk and Bezos and how they are revolutionizing the space launch business on their way to colonizing Mars. We really are witnessing history that might set our species on a different path. If it sounds merely farfetched instead of ludicrous it's thanks to the work of Musk and Bezos who have spent their own fortunes to seek out a new horizon. This is a must read for anyone with even a passing interest in space.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sergio Juarez

    Probably my favorite book so far this year. The stories were pretty interesting. I consider myself a fan of Space X and the current companies trying to get to space, but there was plenty I didn't knew that I found out through this book. Great information and super entertaining.

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