Good news: The Russians have pinned down a preliminary cause for the Progress launch failure last week.
Solving this quickly appears essential, as the space station was not really designed to fly unmanned.
Past NASA risk assessments show there is a one in 10 chance of losing the station within six months if astronauts and cosmonauts are not onboard to deal with any critical systems failures. The probability soars to a frightening one in two chance — a 50-percent probability — if the station is left without a crew for a year.
From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.
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