With the launch of SpaceX's Falcon 1 rocket in 2008, Silicon Valley began to realize that the universe itself was open for business. Now, Vance tells the unfolding story of this frenzied intergalactic land grab by following four pioneering companies--Astra, Firefly, Planet Labs, and Rocket Lab--as they build new space systems and attempt to launch rockets and satellites into orbit by the thousands.
Unfortunately, Vance’s story loses some of its shape, branching into loosely connected sections covering Planet Labs, the satellite company that Marshall started, and three rocket-launching companies ... In some of its best sections, Vance’s book is an exuberant ride... reveling in the do-it-yourself ethos of the new space business. It may not completely reach its destination; between the narratives here, it’s not fully clear that the new industry has reached escape velocity. But Vance makes a good case that the new generation of space entrepreneurs has managed to set up the launchpad.
The author provides finely observed portraits of the figures behind the aerospace companies ... The focus on figures outside the limelight offers a fresh look at the new space race, and Vance’s feels-like-you’re-there storytelling captures the “spectacular madness” of the moonshots.
Although some of Vance’s stories go on for longer than needed, he ably captures “the spectacular madness of it all.” With enthusiasm and solid research, this book is an entertaining, informative look at cutting-edge technology.