Space is no longer just a government program. Thanks to an emerging breed of innovative aerospace companies, it is rapidly becoming just another place to do business.

The retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011 marked the end of the era of government-owned manned space flight, and the liftoff of the commercial space age. From the first privately funded manned spaceflights to the building of the first commercial spaceports and space stations, Rocketeers is the first book on a new industry that is poised to change the world.

Michael Belfiore takes readers into the rocket shops of Elon Musk (whose Space Exploration Technologies has already built the fastest, highest-flying private rockets), Las Vegas real estate developer Robert Bigelow (now busily launching inflatable space habitats through his Bigelow Aerospace), and hot-shot game programmer John Carmack (building “vertical dragsters” for NASA with his Armadillo Aerospace)—to name a few—for an instructive and eye-popping look at the emerging business of space travel.

“If private-sector space exploration efforts bring to mind aviation’s early days, they also evoke the personal-computer world circa 1975: a lot of creative energy and a critical mass of engineers, early-adopter customers, bold financiers, and start-up suppliers and subcontractors…. Mr. Belfiore does a terrific job of capturing the dream-chasing that is already under way.”

—Glenn Reynolds, The Wall Street Journal

How did SpaceX design, build, and fly America’s next manned spaceship for less than the cost of a single Space Shuttle Mission? How is Virgin carving out a brand-new (and very lucrative) market for suborbital space travel? How are garage rocket scientists changing the way NASA has done business for the last 50 years? What lessons can other companies seeking to transform their own industries draw from the new space companies? Find out in Rocketeers.