Please consider donating to Behind the Black, 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.


Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:


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


If Paypal doesn'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

Chinese lunar mission launches

The competition heats up: The Chinese have launched their next lunar mission, a fly-by around the Moon to test their return-to-Earth engineering in anticipation of a future sample return mission.

Chang’e 5-T1, one of the test models for Chang’e-5, was developed using a Chang’e 2 type spacecraft (acting like a service module) featuring the Chang’e-5 return capsule. This return capsule is very similar to the Shenzhou manned return technology, so it is assumed that it was developed using the Shenzhou as a baseline model. The service module will be used for trajectory corrections, power supply using two solar panels and batteries, along with telemetry and commands transmission to and from the control center.

Following launch, Chang’e 5-T1 will be injected into a lunar free-return orbit, loop behind the Moon once and return to Earth to test the high speed atmospheric reentry of a capsule returning from the translunar voyage at 11.2 km/s.

This launch marks the start of this nine day mission. Stay tuned for updates.

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.

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 *