book hack


Eric Berger

5 mins

3 key insights

Visual, audio & text

Liftoff is the incredible, do-or-die tale of how Elon Musk's SpaceX sent its first rocket into orbit, beginning a revolution in the space industry.




by Eric Berger


Elon Musk wants to build a city on Mars. To do that, he founded SpaceX. Living on Mars might sound ridiculously ambitious, but SpaceX's staggering progress suggests it could be possible. Beginning with a talented but rag-tag team, Musk's company has upended the space industry, slashing costs and pioneering reusable rockets. In 2021, NASA chose SpaceX to carry humans back to the moon, with the company's winning bid less than half the cost of the competition.

Eric Berger is a journalist, meteorologist, and senior space editor at Ars Technica. In Liftoff, published in 2021, he narrates the perilous journey from SpaceX's inception in 2002 to its first launch into orbit in 2008. To put it mildly, the journey of SpaceX hasn't been smooth. Using exclusive interviews with key figures, including Musk, Berger recounts the multiple occasions that SpaceX almost imploded and the immense stress this wrought on those involved.

Favorite quote

Can you believe that thing, or something like it, is going to take people to another planet for the first time in 4.5 billion years? I mean, probably. It may not work. But it probably will.

- Elon Musk, SpaceX founder

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