The US government space agency, NASA, retired its space shuttles and needed alternative, reliable and affordable cargo carriers to supply the International Space Station. The leading space exploration companies, Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX, have stepped up; Space X already has been to the Space Station and back. And, they plan to help NASA with its new focus on missions to the moon and to Mars. The companies have similar goals, but different management styles under the leadership of their respective billionaires. Christian Davenport’s lively narrative about their exploits will appeal to anyone interested in space exploration.
American billionaires Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos launched their private space companies as NASA suffered a lack of progress.
In 2003, Elon Musk’s company, SpaceX, began paying $45,000 a year to lease the Bluebonnet Ordnance Plant, a former military test range, from the city of McGregor, Texas. In early 2005, Jeff Bezos’s space company, Blue Origin, acquired properties in West Texas totaling 331,859 acres.
As the 21st century began, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) had not conducted a space flight with astronauts, except for excursions to low Earth orbit, since 1972, when astronaut Eugene Cernan walked on the moon.
Musk incorporated SpaceX in March 2002, and opened its first location in a manufacturing plant near the Los Angeles airport. The company designed the Falcon 1 rocket to hoist satellites and other items into low Earth orbit for about $6 million per trip.
Meanwhile, NASA’s periodic catastrophes persisted, including the space shuttle Columbia’s 2003 re-entry disintegration, which killed its crew of seven.
By late that year, SpaceX...