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.

Blue Origin update on New Shepard and New Glenn

Capitalism in space: Blue Origin officials today provided an update on both its suborbital New Shepard spacecraft as well as its New Glenn orbital rocket.

First, the company’s CEO, Bob Smith, was quoted as saying that New Shepard would fly three more flights unmanned prior to its first manned flight, and that manned flight will occur before the end of this year.

Smith has made similar promises in the past, so if you are skeptical it is entirely understandable. They have already flown their second New Shepard craft six times successfully. It is unclear if they are they going with a new craft for these manned flights, or using this older test vehicle.

Second, the company released two short public relations videos touting the completion of the first fairing for their orbital New Glenn rocket. In addition, they still expect production of that rocket’s BE-4 engine to begin this year, with a first maiden flight next year.

That predicted launch date still fits the revamped schedule they announced back in October 2018, which suggests they have not experienced any major issues. The next year however will tell the tale.

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  • Ray Van Dune

    The obvious question is why so slow? Looks like SpaceX is going to put humans in orbit before BO even gives a few of them an ultimate roller-coaster ride! And SpaceX is probably going to beat presumptive aerospace leaders Boeing and Lockheed putting humans into orbit, too.

    Is it because BO is limited by Bezos’ wealth, while SpaceX is playing with (future) StarLink cash flow? But isn’t the BE-4 engine selected for the new ULA Vulcan? Is that not a sufficient / secure enough / timely-enough revenue stream? Is BE-4 holding up Vulcan, or is Vulcan holding up demand for BE-4?

    Maybe the question is more properly not why BO, Boeing and Lockheed are so slow, but how is SpaceX so fast… and is it too fast?!

  • V-Man

    They have a different definition of “complete” than I do. I see no acoustic protection, no latches, no mounting lugs of any kind. And maybe I’ve been spoiled by SpaceX, but just thinking that they are going to throw this away… Ugh.

    (Also, why start with the fairing? Shouldn’t they have a working booster first?)

  • Edward

    From the article: “The Jeff Bezos-backed rocket company pumped the brakes on its test flight program last year

    It would have been nice for them to tell us why Blue Origin slowed down last year.

    Meanwhile, over the past two years they have had a year-for-year schedule slip on New Shepard, which is a bad sign. A project that is not converging toward completion is a project in trouble.

  • Wodun

    Slightly OT, here is a video tour of ULA with Bruno thanks to smarter everyday. Some good bits of info about Vulcan. There is a part 2 and a pad tour if you search the channel.

  • Edward

    Thank you for the link. I also liked part 2 and the visit to the pad.

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