How to Make a Spaceship

  • by Julian Guthrie, Richard Branson - preface, Stephen Hawking - afterword
  • Narrated by Rob Shapiro
  • 16 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The historic race that reawakened the promise of manned spaceflight.
Alone in a Spartan black cockpit, test pilot Mike Melvill rocketed toward space. He had 80 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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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A Fun and Thrilling Ride

I remember being itty bitty, waking up, wearing PJs, to watch all sorts of fantastical rocket launches. The memories are vague but fun.
So I'm confounded that everything that happens in "How to Make a Spaceship" happened outside my awareness. Did Life really make me that distracted? What fun, then, to take this ride now, with all of the players, big dreamers, small dreamers, all oh so devoted.
This is kind of like "Rocket Boys" meets "The Right Stuff". It follows the creation of a renewed drive to see space entered and goes along to the actual people who strove to make it happen. And all along the way were failures, which I found to be inspiring because people learned from them. They did NOT give up.
Personalities are addressed, hopes, emotions. You're right there, thinking and living with the people. And the writing is superb: some writing reads like straight adventure, and some reads like poetry.
Rob Shapiro does well; nonfiction is hard. But he gets into the grittier parts, breathes life into the parts where words are brushstrokes on a glorious stellar canvas. I dinged him a star, however, because I absolutely had to listen to this at x1.25; it was far too slow going at regular speed. Otherwise, good job.
Wonderful people, lyrical, edge-of-your-seat writing. Only Richard Branson earns the occasional eye roll. I enjoyed every minute, didn't feel the sixteen hours at all. Plus, the epilogue/where-are-they-now was fantastic to hear
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- Gillian


this is a great non fiction book which highlights many organizations, books, and people to which get involved in the space race. I hope that this book is taught in schools as it is a great inspiration and resource.
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- alex langrell

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-20-2016
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio