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.

ArianeGroup successfully tests solid rocket booster

Capitalism in space: ArianeGroup today successfully tested the solid rocket booster that it will use on both its Ariane 6 and Vega-C rockets in the 2020s.

The test success is good news for ArianeGroup, but this quote is actually more significant:

A compromise reached in May by European Space Agency members funding launch vehicle development will keep production of the P120C in Italy, allowing Avio to produce up to 35 boosters annually. A previous arrangement would have split production between Colleferro, Italy-based Avio and MT Aerospace of Augsburg, Germany.

The economies of scale provided by using the same booster for two rockets and concentrating production in one place are a key aspect of reducing the price for Ariane 6 missions by 40 to 50 percent compared to the Ariane 5 in use today.

Faced with stiff competition from SpaceX, the European Space Agency (ESA) gave ArianeGroup the power to structure operations more efficiently rather than cater to the pork desires of the agency’s many member nations.

Whether either Ariane 6 or Vega-C can compete with SpaceX’s reusuable rockets however remains doubtful. I expect that almost all of ArianeGroup’s customers in the next decade will be ESA member nations, required to buy its more expensive services.

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  • wodun

    Pretty amazing that they hope to cut the price by 40-50%.

  • Col Beausabre

    Shows how much pork costs ….not that I should boast since I live in the Garden State…

    TRENTON, N.J. — At $2 million a mile, New Jersey spends eight times the national average on its state-controlled highways, a heavy toll that is driving the tax-supported roadway fund dry and forcing officials to rethink how roads are built.”

    I should hope so – not that I expect any results. The answer will be, “Tax the rich!” (which will mean anyone who has an income). NJ has reached The Thatcher Point. “Eventually you run out of other peoples’ money to give away”

    “triple the roughly $675,000 spent by the next-highest state, Massachusetts, and more than eight times the national average of $162,200”

  • I am so glad I moved out of the NY metropolitan area in 1998. So, so, so glad.

  • wayne

    Can somebody give me a net-cost per mile, for the “super-train” in California?

    Ref: Highway construction:
    It’s worse than Col Beausabre reports. (although I don’t know where the “$2 million/mile” figure comes from,)

    I’m in Michigan and we rank 13th for ‘cost-per-lane-mile’ at $42K –so a standard divided highway (2 lanes each way, 4 total) in Michigan would come in at $168K/mile, but that also doesn’t include land, engineering, or any over-passes or exits.
    [Arizona btw is ranked 12]

    Comprehensive charts (and a lengthy PDF Report) are at:


    –For highways, you have construction cost + right-of-way-acquisition cost + engineering cost + required over-passes & Exits.

  • wayne

    “We’ll Take the High Road”
    1957 American Road Builders Association

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