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.
 

Gateway dropped from NASA lunar landing plans

According to the head of NASA’s manned program, the agency has revised its 2024 lunar landing plans so that the Lunar Gateway space station is no longer needed.

In a conversation with the NASA Advisory Council’s science committee March 13, Doug Loverro, NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations, said he had been working to “de-risk” the Artemis program to focus primarily on the mandatory activities needed to achieve the 2024 landing goal.

…Later in the half-hour session, he said that means taking the lunar Gateway off the critical path for the 2024 landing. That was in part because of what he deemed a “high possibility” of it falling behind schedule since it will use high-power solar electric propulsion in its first module, the Power and Propulsion Element. “From a physics perspective, I can guarantee you we do not need it for this launch,” he said of the Gateway.

Loverro added that he wasn’t cutting Gateway, only pushing it back in order to prioritize their effort in getting to the lunar surface more quickly.

The Trump administration has been slowly easing NASA away from Gateway, probably doing so slowly in order to avoid upsetting some people in Congress (Hi there Senator Shelby!). They have probably looked at the budget numbers, the schedule, and the technical obstacles that are all created by Gateway, and have realized that they either can go to the Moon, or build a dead-end space station in lunar orbit. They have chosen the former.

Someday a Gateway station will be needed and built. This is not the time. I pray the Trump administration can force this decision through Congress.

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18 comments

  • Jerry Greenwood

    Who would have thought that falling behind schedule would be a concern for NASA. Is there someone new at the top?

  • Richard M

    I shed no tears over the Gateway’s probable demise. But the problem is, what Loverro is leaning toward in replacing its role is even MORE reliance on the Space Launch System, and even LESS on commercial launchers and vehicles: An integrated lander procured on cost plus contracts, launched on a separate SLS Block 1B.

    The result will be just Flags and Footprints – assuming it ever does reach the lunar surface. And lots and lots of money going to Boeing and its subcontractors.

  • Fred Kleindenst

    Richard M: Bingo, I think you are correct.

    It’s a disastrous policy direction for NASA. I say this because it has zero chance of getting to the surface of the Moon by 2024. It will disenfranchise the few aerospace companies that are doing very well, while subsidizing the ones performing very poorly.

    The gateway architecture was a Rube Goldberg contraption that had a lot of flaws and compromises. So I’m not very sad to see it go away. But turning Artemis into Flags and Footprints isn’t a policy that is worth even the 20 billion or so already spent, much less the expected additional 20 billion.

  • 2sims4u

    If you don’t like SLS, then I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed by this decision. Gateway was always for the benefit of the commercial and international partners. This is another step towards the selection of an integrated SLS-launched lander.

  • Lee S

    As an interested observer, I’m not sad to see the demise of gateway… Even tho there will be repercussions even over here…. I believe several European contractors were involved.
    But at the end of the day, a boondoggle is a boondoggle, Bob, I’m not even sure if your correct about “Someday a Gateway station will be needed and built.”…. I predict a Mars colony before a moon, so I’m not entirely sure of the science involved here, but a staging platform in earth orbit seems more logical than in lunar orbit. Unless the mythical helium 3 is acctually found on the moon, I see no reason for a permanent settlement on a barren rock. I get that it would be good practice for spreading our wings out into the solar system, but if we have the tech, why not just go for gold instead of bronze?
    Just the ramblings of a European watching with extreme interest.

  • Calvin Dodge

    I love seeing FLOP-G live up to its name.

    “Gateway was always for the benefit of the commercial and international partners. ”

    Gateway was invented to give SLS something to do, and give SLS manufacturers something else to cost-plus forever.

  • Edward

    Lee S wrote: “I’m not even sure if your correct about ‘Someday a Gateway station will be needed and built.’….

    I suspect that Robert is correct. There are certain efficiencies that can be had by having a way point to the Moon, once we are traveling there regularly. It may even work as a way point to the rest of the solar system, especially to Mars, once we are traveling there regularly, too. It is possible that neither of these way points is best in lunar orbit. The Earth-Moon Lagrange Point 1 is another possible place for refueling and restocking supplies from the Moon, because it takes much less delta v to get there from the Moon than from Earth. We will have to see what is decided in the not so distant future.

  • 2sims4u

    @Calvin

    Nope. SLS doesn’t need Gateway. SLS never needed Gateway. Cutting Gateway out of the plan is a move towards more SLS.

  • wayne

    As it’s topical and appropriate, I’ll toss this into this thread–

    The Tom Woods Show
    Episode 1611, March 14, 2020
    “How Innovation Works, and Why It Flourishes in Freedom”
    https://youtu.be/oAnqmy8yq5M
    32:37

    “The great Matt Ridley joins us for a fascinating whirlwind tour of the history of innovation, and identifies key features of it that free societies disproportionately make possible.”

  • M Puckett

    If they want a gateway, why not jjust bid commercial and lease the damn thing? Hello Axiom, Bigelow and Sierra Nevada!

  • M Puckett

    Or just do a Wet/Dry workshop ala Skylab via parking a Starship? That would be huge.

  • pzatchok

    I wonder if a Starship could be modified to act just like a Falcon 9?
    Basically it separates a huge second stage and just lands the engines and fuel tanks to have another second stage attached.
    Nothing wasted such as the tanks and engines if the whole craft were left in space.

  • Edward

    pzatchok pondered: “I wonder if a Starship could be modified to act just like a Falcon 9?

    With a 100 ton payload capability, a cargo Starship (as opposed to a manned or a tanker Starship) should be able to take an upper stage with whatever probe we want to send around the solar system.

  • pzatchok

    Not a probe but a huge habitat.

    Something like a 90 ton Bigalow habitat with a huge docking ring on each end. Something with an 8 to 10 foot diameter door for moving cargo and internal parts. It would also be more than big enough to run all utilities internally.

  • Lee S

    All good stuff above guys…. I will admit my ignorance to the actual need for a Gateway like station… But it seems like nothing but sense to put it out to private business with the promise to rent when completed… I’m sure Bigalow and one of the launch companies could build something for a fraction of the price!

  • pzatchok

    How about this?

    Make a standard 6 sided docking ‘block’ attach a habitat module on any number of sides and any empty sides could be used for shuttle/cargo docking and or make a solar array that attaches at the unused docking port. Power lines can be run right through the docking port door and plugged right into the main power system.

    Fully reconfigurable and relatively easy to do when needed.

  • Edward

    pzatchok wrote “Power lines can be run right through the docking port door and plugged right into the main power system.

    We learned from MIR that we really want special connections external to the door so that the door can be quickly closed in the case of decompression.

  • pzatchok

    Think of it like a door frame with the utilities running through it and a man sized pressure door in it also.

    You bolt one of these assemblies in between each module. Instant pressure door and utility access.

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