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.

Boeing and Bigelow show off their respective manned capsule and space station modules.

The competition heats up: Boeing and Bigelow show off their respective manned capsule and space station module. More here.

The images of Bigelow’s mock-up of its BA-330 space module are what is especially interesting, considering that we have seen similar mock-ups already of the interior of Boeing’s CST-100 capsule.


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.


  • Kelly Starks

    Well Don’t know if they’ll work or get contracts – but they look pretty.

  • B Lewis

    Having that heavy-looking control panel suspended in front of one’s unhelmeted head during a 7-G emergency ballistic descent would make for a truly anus-clenching experience.

  • Kelly Starks

    well as often as not all capsule aborts kill you anyway, so the panels the last thing you need to worry about.

  • “well as often as not all capsule aborts kill you anyway,”

    And what may your evidence be for this statement? Based on history, it is completely false. The only two launch aborts that have ever happened, both on Russian Soyuz rockets/capsules, worked perfectly and the crews came home quite safe and unharmed.

  • Edward

    It turns out that the escape tower also fired on Mercury-Redstone 2, pulling the capsule from the rocket, with HAM aboard. HAM also survived nicely, with the reporters telling us that he was all smiles. Tom Wolf, however, in his book “The Right Stuff,” said that HAM was upset that systems on the capsule misbehaved and gave him punishments even though he was performing his tasks correctly. Despite the overall success, a *lot* of important things went wrong on that flight.

  • Kelly Starks

    Actually of the two Cosmonauts I’ve seen records of aborting, only 1 survived.

    Also theres little of the flight profile that allows the use of such abort systems.

  • Kelly Starks

    Yeah and Ham wasn’t actually smiling, he was screaming his head off.

  • ken anthony

    But did Ham kiss the ground when he got back?

  • What records of launch aborts are you talking about? No Russian has ever died in a launch abort. None. Two launches had aborts, one on the launch pad and a second while first stage was firing prior to reaching orbit. In both cases the launch abort systems worked as designed, getting the Soyuz capsule safely away from the rocket and bringing it down safely to Earth.

    According to every piece of data I have ever uncovered, read, or discovered in my many interviews and research in Russia on their space program, the only Russian deaths in space occurred during landings, first with the first Soyuz flight and second with the return of the first crew to their first space station.

    If you know of another death that I am forgetting about or that only you know about, please describe it in detail, with your references. Otherwise, stop making up facts to fit your theories. It doesn’t serve your arguments well.

  • Kelly Starks

    I know the Soyuz T-10 in ’83 had a pad abort that the escape system worked from, but I read of a earlier one where their were fatalities… a ejection system I think… Been to long.

    The Soyuz launch failure in 73 didn’t involve a launch escape system. Though One of the guys did get beat up pretty bad.
    … or was that one in ’75 where they bounced down the side of a mountain??? Oberg talked about that in Reds Star I think?..
    Oh no that was a separate failure

    >…On April 5, 1975, two cosmonauts were dumped onto the Altai Mountains in the world’s first manned space launch abort. Pilot Vasily Lazarev and flight eng;ineer Oleg Makarov survived a harrowing 20 G descent and then a bouncing ride down a mountainside before their spacecraft came to a safe stop. ….. cosmonaut Vasily Lazarev recounted the events of his aborted space shot on April 5, 1975, when his Soyuz 18-1 booster malfunctioned and his capsule bounced down a Siberian mountainside near the Chinese border ..<

    Whatever.. no time to dig around for it. Could be a rumored other failure later disproved – or real one that got buried.

  • “Whatever.. no time to dig around for it. Could be a rumored other failure later disproved – or real one that got buried.”

    This is classic, especially the “Whatever.” You assert a fact you don’t know is true, and in fact is well known to be very false, and when I call you on it you say “Whatever”?

    Meanwhile, your first paragraph continues to assert these false facts, without any attribution. It sure makes you look like a complete fool, with very little help on my part.

  • Kelly Starks

    And how often do you attribute your off the cuff assumptions? Or anyone else here?

    If your curious and don’t want to just google Soyuz T-10

  • Kelly Starks

    An angry chimp? I’d more expect he’d rip someone’s arm off.


  • Why should I google Soyuz T-10 when it was one of the two very launch abort successes I described in my earlier comments? In writing about this launch abort for my book Leaving Earth I used information gathered during a face-to-face interview with Gennady Strekalov in Moscow.

    Granted, people do not cite their sources all the time, but when you make a statement and others ask you to back that claim up with your sources, it behooves you to do so. If you can’t, it then behooves you to retract the claim.

    You claimed that the Russians lost an astronaut during a launch abort. This claim is wrong. You can’t cite any sources for it because it never happened. When I am wrong I always make a point of admitting it immediately, since doing otherwise only digs the hole deeper in a way that does me even more harm. You should learn to do the same. It would help clear your thinking.

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 *