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Two new SpaceX and others books

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Cosmacelf

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Mar 6, 2013
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I just received my copies of the two SpaceX/others books that came out today.

The Space Barons (Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the quest to colonize the cosmos): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1610398297

Rocket Billionaires (Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the new space race): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1328662233

People might be more familiar with the first book as the author works for The Washington Post and excerpts have been written promoting the book. So, of course, I 'm going to start reading the second book first. Actually, reading the author bios, the second book seems to have a better pedigree and has a chance to be better researched. When I get through the books I'll post my thoughts.
 
I finshed reading Rocket Billionaires. It didn’t take long, it’s a fast read and short book. I was not impressed with it. I certainly learned new things about Blue Origin and the greater context what was happening in aerospace when BO and SX started up. But the writing felt too much like newspaper reporting (“I was told...”, for example) and I felt overall the book lacked depth.

Have now started Space Barons and so far I find it more compelling. It gives a more complete version of the Scaled Composites/Virgin Galactic Story and also more background on Bezos, making clear that his interest in space is deep rooted and he’s serious, but has a different focus than Elon. I now have more respect for BO and find the differences between it and SpaceX fascinating. I remain convinced that SpaceX is going to be the more successful and important of the two companies, but I certainly want BO to succeed.

@Cosmacelf are you done with Rocket Billionaires yet?
 
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I finshed reading Rocket Billionaires. It didn’t take long, it’s a fast read and short book. I was not impressed with it. I certainly learned new things about Blue Origin and the greater context what was happening in aerospace when BO and SX started up. But the writing felt too much like newspaper reporting (“I was told...”, for example) and I felt overall the book lacked depth.

Have now started Rocket Billionaires and so far I find it more compelling. It gives a more complete version of the Scaled Composites/Virgin Galactic Story and also more background on Bezos, making clear that his interest in space is deep rooted and he’s serious, but has a different focus than Elon. I now have more respect for BO and find the differences between it and SpaceX fascinating. I remain convinced that SpaceX is going to be the more successful and important of the two companies, but I certainly want BO to succeed.

@Cosmacelf are you done with Rocket Billionaires yet?

Yes I did finish Rocket Billionaires. It was very SpaceX oriented with a good dose of NASA funding information. I agree, the book was just ok. I got the impression from reading it that it was rushed to print to compete with Space Barons since there were a bunch of areas that could have been edited for clarity. The book jumped around a lot, and it was hard to understand a timeline for anything.

Meanwhile Space Barons literally starts with a page and a half timeline of the major private players (but completely ignores Orbital Sciences). I’ve just started Space Barons, so will give more thoughts later. It does seem that each book is somewhat complementary, different info is in each book.
 
ecarfan - can you edit your post to present accurately which book is which?
Sorry, I can no longer edit my post. What I meant to write was “Have now started Space Barons and so far I find it more compelling.”

And I’ve now finshed Space Barons. It’s more complete, better organized, more up to date, and contained additional information I had never read before. That said, I still found it lacking in depth. But then I’m a SpaceX geek. I recognize that both books are targeted at the typical reader who has some mild interest in the topic but little background.
 
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OK, so it's defintiely Space Barons for me, then. After all, I only yesterday entered "blisk" into my vocabulary. Not sure how may times I'll be able to slip it into kaffeklatch conversations...
 
So both books liberally use quotes and stories freely available from newspaper and other reporting. There are passages and quotes that are almost word for word the same in each book. This is especially noticeable in the parts that talk about SpaceX.

There is, however, a lot of original reporting in each book.

Billionaires has a lot more info about SpaceX early days and the four Falcon one flights. It is also has more technical details. Not tons of technical detail mind you, but just more than Barons. Billionaires just has more SpaceX info overall, Barons seems to just regurgitate publically available info about SpaceX. Billionaires also has a lot more inside baseball about NASA, the Air Force, and the funding wars.

Barons, on the other hand, and way more info on Blue Origin, which is a feat since that company is so darn secretive. It also has a lot more info on Branson, Burton and Scaled Composites, and how Paul Allen fit into all this. It even has info about Beal and his failed attempt to get private rockets going several years before the current crop.

So, I’d recommend Barons if you’re only going to read one book, but read Billionaires if you want a fuller picture of SpaceX.
 
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Also, both books focus on the (now) billionaires or Barons of the private space industry, to the point of almost completely ignoring Orbital Sciences.

Missing from both books is any real technical details and discussion about each company’s rockets, architectures and capabilities.
 
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