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.

Chinese pseudo-company launches first satellite

The new colonial movement: The pseudo-private Chinese company Galactic Energy today successfully completed its first orbital launch, placing a small satellite into orbit using its Ceres-1 rocket.

Galactic Energy is the fourth Chinese private launch company overall to make an orbital launch attempt, all with light-lift solid launchers. Landspace made the first attempt in October 2018, with OneSpace following in March 2019. In July last year iSpace became the first to successfully achieve orbit with its Hyperbola-1 launch.

The 19-meter-long, 1.4-meter-diameter Ceres-1 can loft 350 kilograms to low Earth orbit or 230 kilograms to a 700-kilometer SOO. It consists of three solid stages and an advanced liquid upper stage. [emphasis mine]

That all of these companies are using solid rockets explains why I call them “pseudo private.” They might be raising independent venture capital money to fund their operations, and they might be aimed at earning a profit, but solid rocket technology is always the primary technology used for military missiles, and none of these Chinese companies could do anything without the close and very firm permission and supervision of the Chinese communist government. In fact, their very existence is likely because that Chinese communist government wants them to exist.

Nonetheless, this launch raises China’s launch capabilities. The leaders in the 2020 launch race:

29 China
19 SpaceX
12 Russia
4 ULA
4 Europe (Arianespace)
4 Rocket Lab

The U.S. is still ahead of China, 30 to 29, in the national rankings.

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5 comments

  • Jerry Greenwood

    19 SpaceX, 4 ULA, 4 Rocket Lab = 27
    The U.S. is still ahead of China, 30 to 29, in the national rankings.

    Every time you post these numbers, when I add up the numbers there is always a discrepancy.

    Not being picky, just confused

    What am I missing?

  • Jerry Greenwood: I’ve explained this numerous times. These announcements only include the leaders in the launch race. I am not listing everyone. For example, yesterday India completed its first launch. It didn’t get listed before, nor after. Doesn’t qualify.

    At the end of the year I will post the full list, with analysis.

  • john hare

    @Jerry,
    There are other US launch companies and vehicles that don’t make the list that add to the US totals. Antares for one.

  • David

    I’ve never been able to find a statement on what exactly these solid rocket motors are. Decommissioned ballistic missiles? I wouldn’t think they have enough for all these companies. New production of the same motors? New production of a custom design, but in the same military factory? Or something entirely custom produced in a “civilian” factory?

    I can’t help but wonder if this isn’t a case of “sure, lets create a smallsat launch industry” but also “an excuse to build a bunch of ballistic grade SRMs and keep those factories busy and expanding and the mandarins who take their profits happy.”

  • David: The answer is both. These are certainly new solid rocket motors, but the technology comes from the military. The goal is to create a new smallsat launch industry, while also developing quick launch ballistic grade missiles that can be launched from a truck, from anywhere.

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