When the Heavens Went on Sale

(Trade paper)
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A momentous look at the private companies driving the revolutionary new space race, from the 3-million copy, New York Times bestsellingauthor of Elon Musk

In 2008, Elon Musk's SpaceX became the first private company to build a low-cost rocket that could reach orbit. Suddenly Silicon Valley, not NASA, was the epicentre of the new Space Age. Start-ups and investors began to realise that the heavens - ungoverned and unregulated - were open for business.

When the Heavens Went on Sale tells the remarkable, unfolding story of this frenzied race to control access to outer space. Ashlee Vance follows four pioneering companies - Astra, Firefly, Planet Labs and Rocket Lab - as they attempt to launch thousands of low-cost rockets and satellites into orbit. While the space tourism ambitions of billionaires such as Bezos and Branson make headlines, these under-the-radar companies are striving to monetise Earth's lower orbit; to connect, analyse and monitor everything on Earth.

With unprecedented access to private company headquarters, labs and top-secret launch locations - from the US to New Zealand, Ukraine to India - Vance presents a gripping account of private jets, communes, gun-toting bodyguards, drugs, espionage investigations and multimillionaires guzzling booze as their fortunes disappear.

This is the most pressing and controversial technology story of our time, a tale of fascinating characters chasing unimaginable stakes. Welcome to the new Wild West above the clouds.