Irony of ironies: In order to buy her seat on a Soyuz capsule Sarah Brightman outbid NASA, bumping its astronaut out.
This was a win-win for the Russians. They get paid more by Brightman than by NASA (over $51 million), and they finally get that year long mission they’ve been campaigning for for years. Because Brightman has taken one of NASA’s seats, the U.S. agency was forced to agree to the extended mission in order to maintain a presence on the station throughout that time period. Otherwise, their astronaut would come home and be replaced by Brightman, but for only ten days.
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.
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