Rocketeers by Michael Belfiore
book review by Ralph Buttigieg

If you want to know where the future of space exploration lies get this book. Michael Belfiore tells the story of the New Space entrepreneurs, the people working outside NASA building their own spacecrafts. It starts on that dramatic day Burt Rutan’s Spaceship One became the first private spaceship to enter space and includes the stories of leading private space entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk and Robert Bigelow.

Rocketeers describes the people out at Mojave building their dream. People like genius designer Burt Rutan and the pilots who became the first private astronauts. It describes companies like Xcor and their plans for racing rockets. Importantly it tells the story of tinkers like Tom Pickens, showing how individuals with modest resources can play an important part in opening up the endless frontier.

Perhaps the most impressive is Robert Bigelow. As a child his grandparents told him about their sighting of a UFO. He became convinced that advanced civilizations were waiting for us to become space faring. So after a career as a real estate businessman he used his fortune to begin a second career as a space station builder. Using his business skill he acquired inflatable technology from NASA and already has two prototypes space station modules in orbit.

My only wish is that he could have covered other players such as JP Aerospace and SpaceDev, but any book has to have limits. Anyone with the slightest interest in space exploration and development should love this book.


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