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.

July 12, 2018 Zimmerman/Batchelor podcast

Embedded below the fold in two parts.

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  • Localfluff

    Longer stays on the ISS would be a great thing! It is more valuable because of better microgravity health data. It is safer since it’s launch and landing that are dangerous. And it reduces the ISS crew launch costs per year. But the reason they now think about doing it is awful.

  • Calvin Dodge

    Mr. Steven was the boat’s name before SpaceX bought it.

  • Edward

    You may be interested in the following Space News interview with NASA’s ISS Director, Sam Scimemi:

    Q: “You’ve said ISS is hitting its stride. How so?

    A: “… On the NASA side, for our exploration research program, we are starting to knock out some of the risks in human spaceflight, like bone and muscle loss mitigation strategies. Those risks are starting to come down now as we work through all that research. …

    Q: “You’ve also said ISS hasn’t reached its full potential. What more could be done?

    A: “On the exploration side, there is still more work to be done at integrating across all of our disciplines, across operations, across system demonstrations, across human health and performance, integrating all of those together in a simulation of a long-duration deep space exploration activity on ISS. …

    This might help answer questions about how affordable ISS could be for private commercial operators, after 2024, when the U. S. is planning to exit the operations of the station:

    Q: “What does it cost to maintain the space station annually?

    A: “Its budget is separated into operations, use or research and transportation. The transportation is the largest part of the ISS budget. It is just over half of the budget. The budget this year was about $1.7 billion just for transportation, cargo and crew. …

    But what I found most interesting were the things that NASA said was important to them:

    We think the leadership aspect is important for the continuity, not only for the mission but also for the industrial base, having an industrial base that is able to build rockets, build crew capsules, cargo vehicles, on-orbit spacecraft. It’s important that we also keep continuity in our industrial base and knowledge here on the ground in order to continue spaceflight across multiple decades. … What’s important to NASA and the U.S. government are: the continuity of human spaceflight, leadership of the United States in human spaceflight not only in LEO but also for exploration, long-term research and astronaut opportunities. Reducing cost is also important.

    Although other, private, space stations are mentioned in the interview, the focus is on ISS. Will other space stations be successful? Scimemi thinks that depends upon whether the demand will be there. I think the prices for those other outposts will be low enough and they will be specialized enough to find eager customers. ISS is complicated by the necessity that it needs to be all things (well, many things) for all customers (who can afford it and are willing to put in the public domain, within five years, any and all of their data). Building smaller and simpler outposts should reduce construction, use, and operation costs.

  • Richard M

    Re: the successful Cygnus orbit-boosting test for the ISS.

    You mentioned the dependence on ROSCOSMOS for orbit raising, and along with that, Guidance, Navigation & Control, which is done through the Zvezda module in the Russian Orbital Segment (ROS). Important to note that, since even if (when) the U.S. restores indigenous capability to deliver crew and boost orbit, it will still rely on the Russians for GNC of the station.

    And yet, I was surprised to learn recently that one of the Russian modules, Zarya (which was actually the first ISS module launched), is technically owned by the United States, NOT Russia, even though the Russians built and launched it. That turnover in ownership was a critical part of making the ISS partnership financially viable for Russia at that point. Which means that, even though you will commonly see Zarya listed as part of the ROS, it’s really part of the U.S. Orbital Segment. Which maters, because Zarya has its own GNC capabilities, which were actually used for the ISS until Zvezda was launched. Theoretically, there’s no reason NASA couldn’t use Zvezda for GNC if it had to; at last check, these systems were still functional. If anyone has heard otherwise of late, I’d be keen to hear it.

  • Richard M

    Typo in my last post: That should read: “Theoretically, there’s no reason NASA couldn’t use Zarya for GNC if it had to…”

  • Richard M: We might own Zarya, but I wonder if controlling it is run through Russian mission control. I would suspect so. I would also suspect that mission control in Houston would not be able to take over very easily.

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