HERE BE DRAGONS. The Rise of SpaceX and the Journey to Mars.
In the pre-dawn hours of May 22, 2012, a conventional looking rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral on what was only its third flight. Yet it was carrying a spacecraft to conduct historys first commercial mission to the International Space Station, and along with it, Americas best chance to restore its space-faring capability.
The total taxpayer cost for developing the rocket and the spacecraft, including its previous flights, was $396 million, a fraction of the amount NASA had spent on any comparable project. For Elon Musk and SpaceX Exploration Technologies Corp, a company founded only a decade earlier, it was a stunning accomplishment, yet it was only one stop on a journey which leads all the way to Mars.
From its earliest trials and near disaster on the remote Pacific atoll of Kwajalein to four successful missions to the International Space Station, Here Be Dragons vividly details the first era of SpaceX.
Set against a national space program in complete disarray at the end of the Shuttle era, it is also the story of a unique public/ private partnership with NASA, one that holds the promise of a new era of space exploration.
For anyone who has ever looked to the small, ruddy planet in the night sky and felt its inexorable pull, it may also be the story of something much greater, the opening act in one of the most significant developments in human history, the founding of a second branch of human civilizationon Mars.