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. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

Arianespace successfully completes first Ariane 5 launch in almost a year

Arianespace today successfully completed its first Ariane 5 launch since August 2020, placing in orbit two commercial communications satellites.

The long gap in launches occurred because of a vibration issue discovered during that August 2020 launch durng the release of the rocket’s two fairing halves.

Engineers introduced modifications to the Ariane 5’s payload fairing, or nose cone, to reduce vibrations imparted on the satellites during separation of the shroud, which protects payloads during the first few minutes of flight through the atmosphere. Ground teams will analyze data from the rocket to make sure the changes reduced the vibrations.

Another launch is scheduled for September, followed next by the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope in either November or December. The results from today’s launch as well as the one in September will determine if the Webb launch will go forward on time.

These issues with Ariane 5, delays imposed by the company in fear of the Wuhan flu, and other launch problems with Arianespace’s Vega rocket, has meant that this is only its second launch in 2021, a pace that is below its pace for most of the last decade. Whether the company can recover and pick up the pace before the end of the year will depend on what they learn during today’s launch.

With only two launches total, Europe’s Arianespace remains off the leader board in the 2021 launch race:

24 China
20 SpaceX
12 Russia
3 Northrop Grumman
3 Rocket Lab

The U.S. lead over China in the national rankings remains 30 to 24.

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