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Atlas 5 successfully launches GPS satellite

ULA’s Atlas 5 rocket today successfully launched an Air Force GPS satellite.

The article is worth reading because it does a nice job of summarizing the launch history of the Atlas 5, first introduced in 2002. The key quote, however, is this:

All of the rocket’s early flights carried commercial communications satellites, with the next few launches orbiting HellasSat-2, Rainbow 1, AMC-16 and Inmarsat-4F1. In August 2005 the sixth Atlas V embarked on the type’s first mission for the US Government, deploying NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on the first leg of its mission to the Red Planet.

In other words, the first six flights were commercial, with every flight since 2005 for either NASA or the military. What this suggests to me is that the Atlas 5 is not competitive in the commercial market. It is too expensive, and commercial customers can’t afford it. In contrast, the federal government hasn’t been interested in saving the taxpayer money for years, and pays for this overpriced rocket in order to keep its builders employed.

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.

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