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.

Astra test launch almost reaches orbit

The view from space on Astra's Rocket

UPDATE: The rocket came up slightly short of orbit. From Eric Berger:

Rocket was 0.5 km/s short of orbit. With a better fuel mixture in the upper stage it would have orbited. Apogee of 390km. Rocket 3.3 will carry a payload, and there will be no hardware or software changes.

Original post:
Capitalism in space: According to the company’s Twitter feed, the second launch attempt today by Astra of its rocket appears to have reached orbit.

The images to the right were taken by their rocket, which is unimaginatively dubbed Rocket 3.2. I hope they now give this vehicle a more striking name.

If they have succeeded, they will have joined Rocket Lab as one of only two private commercial smallsat startups to launch a rocket to orbit. Two Chinese pseudo-private companies, Galactic Energy and ExSpace, have accomplished this, but I do not count them as real private companies. They might have worked independent of the government and raised investment capital, but nothing they do happens without close government supervision.

We will have to wait for full flight data from the company, but assuming they reached orbit that will be 40th American launch in 2020, the first time the U.S. has topped 40 launches in a single year since 1969, when the country achieved 46 successful orbital launches.


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