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.

Dragon/Falcon 9 launch abort test moved from Vandenberg to Kennedy

Instead of using the Air Force’s Vandenberg launch complex in California, NASA and SpaceX have shifted their plans for the final launch abort test of the manned version of Dragon capsule to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The date for the test has not been finalized, but it appears it will be delayed until after the next Dragon flight to ISS, itself delayed following the Falcon 9 failure on Sunday. The test will also be delayed until after the completion of the unmanned demo flight to ISS of the manned version of Dragon. SpaceX will then refurbish that demo capsule and re-use it for the launch abort test.

Update: I have rewritten the paragraph above, correcting my first version, which had mistakenly said that a refurbished cargo version of Dragon would be used for the launch abort test. My very knowledgeable readers noted the error and set me straight.


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  • geoffc

    I read the original source article different than your take. (I suspect the link you used read it wrong, personally) It seemed to me that they wanted a full flight fidelity Crew Dragon for the Max-Q/Max-drag abort case. But the build for the Pad Abort has differed enough from the flight model now that they did not think it would be a good test anymore.

    Thus they were delaying until after the first Crew Dragon demo flight to the ISS (Launching unmanned) probably in 2016. They would then refly THAT capsule, which would be the new build. MaxQ abort was a voluntary test they offered to do, not one NASA mandated (ergo CST-100 will not be doing it) so it is not a show stopper on the way to Commercial Crew.

    Using a Crew Dragon on a cargo mission is unlikely. For one thing, PMA’s did not get their IDA, as it was lost on CRS-7 (IDA-2 on CRS-9, with BEAM on CRS-8). So they have to use a CBM. But the Crew Design uses a docking adapter, not a CBM berthing adapter and that may be a largish structural change. (Very different diameters).

  • You may be right, but I have to tell you that you use so many undefined acronyms that I am at a loss to understand you. “PMA’s did not get their IDA, as it was lost on CRS-7 (IDA-2 on CRS-9, with BEAM on CRS-8).”

    Some people may know and understand that sentence, and if I spent a few minutes I probably could figure it out, but when it gets this bad my brain freezes and wants to go elsewhere.

    Are you saying that the delay is until the planned unmanned crew demo, and to use that capsule over, rather than to reuse a cargo capsule?

  • Dick Eagleson

    Are you saying that the delay is until the planned unmanned crew demo, and to use that capsule over, rather than to reuse a cargo capsule?


  • geoffc

    IDA – International Docking Adapter. Will be attached to PMA 2 (and second one to PMA 3).

    PMA – Pressurized Mating Adapter – Where the shuttle used to dock. PMA-1 connects Unity to Zarya, and PMA-2 is at the front of the station. PMA-3 is being moved to the sky facing port on Node2.

    BEAM – Bigelow Expandable (Not idea what the A stands for) Module.

    CRS X – SpaceX Commerical Resupply missions are numbered as Spx CRS-1, to 6 as success, 7 just failed.

    CBM – Common Berthing Module. this is the full width hatch used to connect module to module on the ISS. HTV (H-2 Transfer Vehicle, Japanese frieght vehicle), Dragon, and Cygnus all use the CBM. The PMA actually attaches to a CBM port, and makes it narrower down to the new standard.

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