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.

India tests launch abort system for its own manned capsule

India on July 5 successfully tested its own launch abort system for use on its own manned capsule.

The test was over in 259 seconds, during which the crew escape system along with crew module soared skyward, reached an altitude of nearly 2.7 km, swerved over the Bay of Bengal and floated back to Earth under its parachutes about 2.9 km from Sriharikota.

A video showing excerpts of the test can be viewed here.

India has not yet fully committed to building a manned capsule, but they have been moving forward on testing for several years now, and I expect them to make a commitment within the next year. In fact, I think it likely that India will be the fourth nation, after Russia, the U.S., and China, to launch its own astronauts into space on its own spacecraft.

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  • Tom

    The video clearly shows the capsule separating from the parachutes while still very high in the air. That landing would have caused serious injury, or death, if humans were on board. I can’t image that was a planned sequence of events.


  • wodun

    It could have been intentional, like a drop test.

  • Tom

    Wodun … For human rated flight systems, I’d want to see the capsule come down gently into the water during the first test …. not be stress tested right out of the chute. Those tests are usually done well after your proven the design and have committed to it. The rockets worked, the parachutes worked and the capsule probably worked as designed. But, the capsule being dropped from hundreds of feet above the ocean had to be a programming or mechanical error. This was not a 100% successful test IMHO. The Indians, rightfully, should be proud of their achievement but they certainly learned some lessons.


  • Edward

    I side with Tom on this. A drop test would want to be done from a specific height that is intentionally defined, such as from a crane or a fixed structure. Dropping the craft from the parachutes seems a little too random to produce a good test.

    This looks like a stray command released both parachutes early, which means that I now assume that the parachutes are intended to be released once the craft is safely in the water.

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