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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.

©2016 Julian Guthrie (P)2016 Penguin Audio

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  • Gillian
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 09-28-16

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

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Where science fiction becomes reality

Wow! Must read for any person who even remotely likes the idea of space travel. A real life science fiction come to life. Filled with amazing characters and the richest story. Wonderful writing and performance. Please read! Share with your children to inspire them !

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Multiple converging stories

Great job at putting together this story of private space flight. I wasn't aware of the major milestones by Rutan in creating momentum for private space flight.

The author tried too hard to make personal connections with characters at times, and this was compounded by a narrator who was overly emotional at the same time; but I still highly recommend this audible.

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Use the word impossible cautiously.

Amazing story and extremely well put together. An inspirational tale that I would recommend to anyone. This is my first book review out of 150 hours of listening on audible.

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Listen at 1.5x

Needed to listen at 1.5x but loved it otherwise! Great story, well researched, amazing people.

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A Real American Success Story

Any person, boy or girl, who ever dreamed of going to space will appreciate this story. The individuals in this book are the kind of people Who Make America Great, And Will Continue To Do So.

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You can’t read this and be unchanged

Think you don’t care to know how to make a Spaceship and that’s your reason for not reading this book? Think again! I almost made that mistake.

This was a thrilling ride! This was history the way it should be told—with excitement. I laughed, I cried! I felt the emotions of the people living through the experience and I am inspired. I’m in awe that I’m part of a human race with people like the ones in this book in it.

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moving

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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A great story about our most important next step...

We saw mankind take steps on the moon and were filled with hope. Decades later, so little had been done to further our legacy.

This is a great story, well told, about the next chapter in space flight which, it appears, will either be private enterprise or the Chinese.

If this subject interests you, "The Case for Mars" by Zubrin is a fantastic, educational and thought-provoking book.

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This would be a great story as fiction.

it happened. a great story of dreams come true. and a great cast of characters making impossible happen