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.

August 16, 2016 Zimmerman/Batchelor podcast

Embedded below the fold. We discussed the journey of Curiosity of course. I also spent some time elaborating on some of the engineering advantages SpaceX has because of its success at vertically landing its Falcon 9 first stages.


I must unfortunately ask you for your financial support because I do not depend on ads and rely entirely on the generosity of readers to keep Behind the Black running. You can either make a one time donation for whatever amount you wish, or you sign up for a monthly subscription ranging from $2 to $15 through Paypal or $3 to $50 through Patreon.

Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

Your support is even more essential to me because I not only keep this site free from advertisements, I do not use the corrupt social media companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook to promote my work. I depend wholly on the direct support of my readers.

You can provide that support to Behind The Black with a contribution via Patreon or PayPal. To use Patreon, go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation. For PayPal click one of the following buttons:


Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If Patreon or Paypal don't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to

Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

Or you can donate by using Zelle through your bank. You will need to give my name and email address (found at the bottom of the "About" page). The best part of this electronic option is that no fees will be deducted! What you donate will be what I receive.


  • Localfluff

    Red Dragon 2018 would land more mass on Mars than the sum of all other landers on Mars have!

    And if successful, it would prove that astronauts could be landed on Mars. Today. In a Dragon capsule ejected from a larger Earth-Mars transit vehicle. Although NASA claims that it is impossible to land humans on Mars without tens of tons and some huge, yet non-existent, inflatable heat shield. Reality will tell us who understand physics the best. Reality never cheats.

  • Orion314

    As long as NASA remains a politicians lap-dog bitch, it will never improve.

  • Localfluff

    Unless the politician is a space nerd! Newt Gingrich is as close we can get to that, I guess. He’s seriously educated and thoughtful. But he unbelievably said that he wants space solar power beamed down to Earth to replace coal power plants.

    So that pretty much settles it. NASA maybe does better as a lap-dog bitch than being kicked out of the House. A dog has to try to be happy with whatever it gets. And it’s still fed for survival. NASA is still alive. It still has got a chance. Gotta fight to the end.

  • Localfluff

    So this is a very unfair and evil way to sum it up. But it shows how the “space debate” goes around in the presidential elections. Even when a most respected and intelligent candidate tries to bring up the very reasonable idea of building a crewed base on the Moon. In MSM he’s immediately a lunatic.

    No, no, there’s nothing in the blackness above your head at night. Don’t worry about those dots, they don’t exist. Nothing to see here.

Readers: the rules for commenting!


No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.


However, name-calling and obscenities will not be tolerated. First time offenders who are new to the site will be warned. Second time offenders or first time offenders who have been here awhile will be suspended for a week. After that, I will ban you. Period.


Note also that first time commenters as well as any comment with more than one link will be placed in moderation for my approval. Be patient, I will get to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *