The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos

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Really enjoyed this book. I felt I knew a lot about Musk, but this had more information that I previously knew. And great to learn more about Bezos, especially the early days. Also great to get a feel for a bit more of the politics behind space and the big contractors who pretty much took the piss for years. Pity that it didn't get through to the Falcon Heavy launch.


Page 145

Found this interesting, the first guy who launched a liquid fuelled rocket in 1926 was ridiculed for publishing a paper in 1919 saying that a rocket could go to the moon (apparently impossible as a vacuum! Nothing to react against). Received ridicule from the New York Times who wrote in the 20's and received a retraction after the moon landings.

“Every vision is a joke until the first man accomplishes it; once realised it becomes commonplace”Robert Goddard

Page 155

On cost plus contracts (cost plus a fixed margin - NASA pays this to the Boeing’s and whatnot). This is why fixed priced projects are the winner for everyone (and applicable to my business).

“I’ve been doing this for thirty years, so I think I can say that - by cost-plus contracts. The incentive is on a cost-plus contract is not to minimise cost, it’s to maximise effort. Our philosophy was not to minimise effort, but optimise effort.”  — Gwynne Shotwell

Page 159

On the cancellation of constellation program (the one to go to moon and Mars) by Obama. At the time I thought what a scum bag, but when you see costs had doubled and tripled (for space craft and launch vehicle respectively) in 4 years, with the op costs predicted to be massive you can see why it was cancelled. Was annoyed at time, but now, can see it was a great win for the private space industry.

Page 254

Find this to be an amazing quote by Bezos, and feel that this is something will communicate to our little guy as he grows up.

"We all have passions," he told the students sitting before him on the floor. "You don't get to choose them, they pick you. But you have to be alert to them. You have to be looking for them. And when you find your passion, it's a fantastic gift for you because it gives you direction. It gives you purpose. You can have a job. You can have a career. Or you can have a calling." Jeff Bezos

Page 259

And my thoughts exactly on climate change (Bezos)

"If you take a baseline energy usage today, compound it at just a few percent a year for just a few hundred years and you have to cover the entire Earth's surface with solar cells" to keep up with demand, he said. "You either go out into space or you need to control population on Earth. You need to control energy usage on Earth. These things are totally at odds with a free society. And it's going to be dull. I want my great-great-grandchildren to be using more energy per capita than I do. And the only way they can be using more energy per capita than me is if we expand out into the solar system. And then we can really keep Earth as this incredible gem that it is." — Jeff Bezos

GoodReads Description

The historic quest to rekindle the human exploration and colonization of space led by two rivals and their vast fortunes, egos, and visions of space as the next entrepreneurial frontier

The Space Barons is the story of a group of billionaire entrepreneurs who are pouring their fortunes into the epic resurrection of the American space program. Nearly a half-century after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, these Space Barons-most notably Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, along with Richard Branson and Paul Allen-are using Silicon Valley-style innovation to dramatically lower the cost of space travel, and send humans even further than NASA has gone. These entrepreneurs have founded some of the biggest brands in the world-Amazon, Microsoft, Virgin, Tesla, PayPal-and upended industry after industry. Now they are pursuing the biggest disruption of all: space.

via GoodReads (14 September 2019).