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.

Canada’s government approves Starlink service

Capitalism in space: Canada’s government yesterday announced that it has given final approval to SpaceX’s Starlink internet service to offer those services in that country.

More here.

This final approval came from the Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) agency, which appears designed to protect Canadian businesses from foreign competition. It had appeared initially that they had been stalling giving their approval (maybe for political reasons). The delay however could simply have been the slowness of operation which is typical of such government bureaucracies. As noted at the first link above, however “Clearly, the government heard the demand from consumers to get this service approved.” And since there are no Canadian companies that can offer this service, it was absurd not to okay SpaceX’s operation.

This approval means that Starlink is now posed to begin commercial operations, actually selling its internet service to the public, and doing it ahead of its primary competitor, OneWeb. Considering that OneWeb had started development and satellite launching first, this achievement illustrates again SpaceX’s nimble and fast approach to business. The company does not waste time in anything it does. It might not meet all of its scheduling goals, but not for want of trying.

SpaceX has already been offering the service in its test market in the northern U.S. for the price of $99 per month plus an initial fee of $499 for equipment, with the initial user reports very positive.

Readers! My Quick November Fund-Raiser for Behind the Black is now over

I cannot thank the numerous people who so generously donated or subscribed to Behind the Black during this fund drive. The response was remarkable, and reflected the steady growth and popularity of the work I have been doing here for the past ten-plus years.

Thank you again!

Though the find-raising campaign is officially over, and I am no longer plastering the main page with requests for help, if you like what you have read you can still contribute, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. 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.

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  • jburn

    Very clever. SpaceX is creating an income stream from an under served customer base, by utilizing its excess launch capacity.

  • Phill O

    Another blow to western Canada companies (CCI of Calgary in particular) by the Trudeau government.

  • pzatchok


    Very clever. SpaceX is creating an income stream from an under served customer base, by utilizing its excess launch capacity.

    And any profit from starlink will help fund that supply train to Mars.

    At this rate Musk might just be able to move to Mars and retire.

  • Jay

    Phill O.,
    I am surprised they would allow a threat like Starlink to go against Canadian private companies or the Crown Corporations that do communications.

  • Phill O


    Trudeau hates Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. His campain was against Alberta in paticular. Starlink is no threat against the CBC (Canadian Broddcasting Corporation) the crown corp.

  • Jay

    Phill O.,
    I did a few projects north of Edmonton in which I had to deal with two communications providers. One was a utility that I thought was a Crown Corp., but I looked it up and it is private, and the other was a Telco., The border is still closed, so I cannot do any projects north of the border.
    I talked to my friend who lives outside of Calgary and he is not the biggest fan of Trudeau. He often talks about western Canada breaking away and leaving Ontario, Quebec, the Maritime Provinces, and Anne of Green Gables to fend for themselves.

    Sorry, I had to make the Anne of Green Gables joke. My friend has told me many times, jokingly of course, that the whole P.E.I. economy is based off of her.

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