The private space sector is growing tremendously. The industry’s consensus leader, SpaceX, headed by outspoken billionaire Elon Musk, is today worth an estimated $74 billion. And SpaceX and its chief competitors, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, are taking on more roles—flying cargo, supplies, and astronauts to outer space. Space Race 2.0 tells their story with expertly written text by science journalist Brad Bergan and stunning photography of the spacecraft, key players, and facilities in California, Texas, and Florida.
In the 1950s and ’60s, the first Space Race pitted two political ideologies against one another: either Communism or Capitalism would prove superior. Ultimately, the US landed on the moon, the race’s crowning achievement. Now, more than a half-century later, the Space Race has pivoted from a contest between ideological rivals to private aerospace firms competing for contracts.
Today, rather than symbolic goals motivated by patriotism, the defining success of a launch system extends beyond engineering and science to image and ROI. Founded in 2002, SpaceX’s trajectory was determined by Musk’s realization that he could achieve higher profits by vertically integrating—manufacturing his own rockets and spacecraft—rather than relying on third parties. The decision was prescient, resulting in a state-of-the-art headquarters in Hawthorne, California, and a series of stunning achievements.
Space Race 2.0 follows the development of commercial space exploration to the present. While tentative first steps in private ventures are covered, such as those by Space Services Inc. and Orbital Science in the 1980s and ’90s, the focus is on today’s major players: SpaceX, Blue Origin (headed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos), and Virgin Galactic (founded by Richard Branson). While examining the hardware, Bergan also explores such considerations as the importance of design-forward equipment and the endgame: what ultimately is “in it” for firms at the forefront? Natural resources? NASA and ESA contracts? Commercial travel? Communications? And what legal boundaries, if any, restrain corporate interests in space?
Space Race 2.0 is the ultimate visual look at this relatively young industry, looking back at recent remarkable decades—and ahead to what the future might bring.
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