Pioneer cover

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.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit.

Another successful test flight for second New Shepard suborbital spacecraft

Capitalism in space: Blue Origin today completed another successful test flight for its second New Shepard suborbital spacecraft.

This flight tested the capsule’s launch abort capabilities. It was also this spacecraft’s third flight. The link provides a replay of the full broadcast. I have embedded this below the fold. The launch is at about 29 minutes.

More info here.

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  • Mordineus

    First time I have watched one of Blue Origin’s tests like this, I love to see they are also landing their boosters as well. I did notice that they slow their rocket down much more gradually prior to landing them, almost coming to a short hover prior to touchdown.

    Contrasting this with SpaceX’s almost too fast to watch method, would this be a less fuel efficient but more forgiving flight profile?

  • wayne

    As one of the YouTube commenters opined, “More camera’s, like those other guys…”
    (a nice display nonetheless)
    Is it just me? I really dislike the cadence & inflection from the announcer-lady. She’s over-the-top, gung-ho. She obviously knows her stuff and she’s attractive, just not-my-cup-of-tea, when it comes to color-commentary.

    –I really haven’t been following Bezo’s to any great extent, but if he’s going to go this far with his technology, he might as well go to orbit and get it over with.

  • wayne: I had complained about this announcer after watching their previous test. It seemed to me that this time she had toned it down significantly, though, as you note, she still seems at times over-the-top, too gung-ho.

  • BSJ

    So, what happens if the capsule lands on top of the booster?

    The chances are less than zero.

    Given how high it went, the fact that the capsule and booster are even in the same photographic frame should be troubling.

  • BSJ

    Argh, MORE than zero!!!

  • Edward

    Mordineus asked: “would this be a less fuel efficient but more forgiving flight profile?

    I do not have any insight of the various engineering teams, but this is a reasonable interpretation. SpaceX seems more concerned with overall fuel use (at least once they ran out of propellant before setting down on the drone ship deck) and Blue Origin seems more interested in fine tuning the landing.

    BSJ asked: “So, what happens if the capsule lands on top of the booster?

    I would be enormously surprised if Blue Origin is not testing capsule guidance and control to make sure that it lands a certain distance from the pads. I would expect them to be concerned with being able to choose the direction from the pads in which the capsule lands (north/south east/west).

    Methods for such control is to take into account the wind direction and speed for consideration during the parachute phase. They may be trying some orientation maneuvers in order to tilt the capsule in thicker parts of the atmosphere for a little north/south east/west travel (before drogue chute deployment) in order to help assure the capsule lands in a satisfactory location. The booster itself may climb to a north/south east/west location that helps the capsule land near where they want.

    But, what happens if the capsule lands on top of the booster? Disaster.

  • Mike Borgelt

    One throttled back Merlin on an empty Falcon booster still has T/W >1 so hover is impossible. Hence the “hover slam” landings. That SpaceX manages this is a huge tribute to the competence of their guidance and control team.

  • Edward

    Mike Borgelt,

    I had forgotten about that problem that Falcon has. The minimum thrust of even one engine is greater than the weight of the rocket and what little propellant remains. Hover is impossible. Good insight on your part.

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