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.

Congress approves establishment of Space Force

In a deal where the Trump administration agreed to a Democratic Party demand that all military personnel be given twelve weeks of paid parental leave, Congress has approved the formation of a new branch of the military dubbed the U.S. Space Force.

In a Dec. 6 deal, the White House agreed to grant 12 weeks of paid parental leave to all federal workers in exchange for the Space Force authorization. The parental leave provision was a top priority for Democrats while the White House has been insistent that any deal should include language to authorize the Space Force.

The House is expected to vote on the compromise bill on Dec. 11. The Senate will take it up at a later date.

The NDAA provides the Secretary of the Air Force with the authority to transfer Air Force personnel to the newly established Space Force. But it does not approve the hiring of new people. The Air Force Space Command is redesignated as the U.S. Space Force. “To minimize cost and bureaucracy, the Space Force will require no additional billets and remains with the President’s budget request,” says the report. The request includes $72.4 million to stand up the headquarters. [emphasis mine]

It appears that initially the Space Force will operate under the auspices of the Air Force, but only during a transitional period.

The highlighted words suggest that Congress has managed, at least so far, in making this new agency mostly a rearrangement of personnel, something that makes sense. Military space operations need to be consolidated into one command structure.

We shall see however if Congress (and future presidents) can resist allowing this new bureaucracy to grow. I have my doubts, which if proven true will defeat the entire purpose for doing this. For example, while generally avoiding the hiring of many new people, the legislation also creates three new administrative posts, all of which I guarantee will eventually demand their own bureaucracies.

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  • Edward

    Isn’t the 12 weeks of paid parental leave to all federal workers part of the cost of the new Space Force? Since that is what it took to create the force, it is certainly part of the cost. It won’t show up on the expense reports as such, but it is there nonetheless.

  • Tom Billings

    “We shall see however if Congress (and future presidents) can resist allowing this new bureaucracy to grow. ”

    That will depend as much or more on what the PLASSF does in response to the first 2 strategies:

    1.) Proliferation of the 60-70 US MilSpace assets to 700-7,000, so that calculating a day and hour when enough of them can be disabled becomes *much* harder, and requires *much* more resources. Once mass production becomes a norm for these satellites, their costs will drop drastically, …just like StarLink.

    2.) Standing up one or more of the current fast launching reusable rockets as a “responsive launch” vehicle, so that instead of taking 3 years to replace a disabled vehicle, it can be done in 3 days.

    The PLA will demand that PLASSF tell them how to counter these strategies, and when that can be done. At that point the PLASSF will have several very expensive options. Which they pick will then determine the Space Force response to that, and Space Force size and personnel as well. The old maxim “The enemy always gets a vote” will figure prominently in how much Space Force costs.


    1) “If the Army felt you needed a kid, it would have issued you one”

    2) This policy should result in greater costs to the military. It won’t of course, because additional troops to cover for those on leave won’t be funded. Instead 1) other troops will have to cover, which will result in some people deciding not to reenlist/extend due to overwork or 2) readiness will go down when jobs don’t get done.

    3) 2) Always felt that allowances for dependents were unfair. Does any civilian employer say “Jones is paid more than you because he has a wife and daughter?”

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