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.

Chang’e-5 now in lunar orbit

The new colonial movement: China’s lunar sample return probe Chang’e-5 has now entered in lunar orbit, with its landing to occur in three days.

Over the next week, the probe, composed of four parts – the orbiter, lander, ascender and Earth re-entry module – will perform multiple complicated tasks on a tight schedule.

The four parts will separate into two pairs. The lander and ascender will head to the moon and collect samples, while the orbiter and Earth re-entry module will continue to fly around the moon and adjust to a designated orbit, getting ready for the docking with the ascender.

The landing operation is expected in three days. Once touched down on the lunar surface, the lander will collect two kilograms of lunar sample.

The plan once on the surface is to gather a sample from the surface as well as from a six-foot deep core sample.

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2 comments

  • Patrick Underwood

    I’m betting the sample grab is the least important part of this mission.

    Look at the flight profile. They’ve already demonstrated autonomous landing, but in this single flight they will attempt a whole pile of (Chinese) firsts: everything else necessary for either robotic or crewed Lunar missions:

    -ascent back into Lunar orbit
    -Lunar orbit rendezvous (that legendary phrase) and docking
    -transfer of materials between spacecraft
    -transfer orbit back to Earth
    -entry at Lunar return velocity
    -recovery of an interplanetary spacecraft

    So the sample grab could fail completely, and the Chinese technorati could still view it as an overwhelming success.

  • LocalFluff

    It is certainly not designed as a one-off, but as a test of a complex Earth-Moon infrastructure architecture. Especially if they actually turn around the antenna and use their L2 radio relay satellites while orbiting at the far side of the Moon (during about 45 minutes out of a 2 hour orbital period, that was the case for Apollo’s command module).

    Soviet returned samples three times by landing everything and launching a small sample capsule directly back to Earth. The obvious way to do it if some Moon dirt is all one wants.

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