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.
 

Live stream of Perseverance launch tomorrow

I have embedded below the fold NASA’s live stream channel for tomorrow’s 7:50 am (Eastern) launch of the Perseverance rover to Mars on a ULA Atlas-5 rocket.

At present the channel is carrying NASA’s programming leading up to the launch. The actual live stream for the launch begins at 7 am (Eastern).

The weather looks good, and there appear to be no issues, as of 11 pm (Eastern).


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5 comments

  • Steve Richter

    big relief that the rocket was launched. In terms of getting material back to Earth, would it have been possible to launch two other missions to Mars at this time? One carrying a rocket that can launch from the surface of Mars to Mars orbit. And a 2nd carrying a space ship that could travel from Mars orbit back to Earth.

  • Jay

    Steve,
    You can launch missions to Mars anytime you like, but this is the best time since this is the closest Mars is to us once every two years. I remember there was a proposal in the early 1990’s to send a Mars Soil Return mission in 1998, but the project was never picked up.
    You can have two launches with one as the sample gatherer and the other the Earth return rocket. You could make it one package (satellite, lander/sample return rocket, and orbiting Earth return rocket) and one launch if you have some great engineers and a rocket that can haul it.

  • Edward

    Steve Richter asked: “In terms of getting material back to Earth, would it have been possible to launch two other missions to Mars at this time?

    Technically, yes. Politically is a different matter. NASA/JPL have convinced Congress to fund the Perseverance sample collection mission, but once there are samples sitting on Mars it seems to me that it should be easier to convince Congress to fund the sample return mission. As far as I have found, it is not yet funded, and NASA is still figuring out how much it will cost for the U.S. part of the mission.

    This presents us with yet another reason to commercialize much of exploration. A commercial operation would have more incentive to find the least expensive way to get as much information as possible.

    A second rover retracing the path of a first rover is not as efficient as two rovers exploring separate regions. The only advantage to retracing a path is to have different instruments that can explore aspects of various sites that the first rover could not analyze. It is similar to the two Voyager spacecraft retracing paths taken by the two Pioneer probes. The Pioneers were limited in their abilities and acted as pathfinders to find the more interesting things for the Voyagers to concentrate on, using their more advanced instruments.

  • Steve Richter

    Edward wrote: “…This presents us with yet another reason to commercialize much of exploration. A commercial operation would have more incentive to find the least expensive way to get as much information as possible. …”

    a 3rd way is private funding of solar system exploration and development of open source technology. Individuals contribute money, expertise, time and labor to organized projects. Start projects with specific goals – placing a rover on the moon, landing some sort of a protected pod on venus, … Then invite people to work on the project, fund it.

  • Edward

    Steve Richter wrote: “a 3rd way is private funding of solar system exploration and development of open source technology.

    Private funding may be a little while in the future. It was tried a quarter century ago when Dr. Alan Binder tried to privately fund a lunar probe, Lunar Prospector. Not enough investors could be found to finish the probe, so after about $15 million of the $25 million project, he had to turn it over to NASA for completion. NASA lists the cost of the project as $62 million, and Dr. Binder was not impressed with the way NASA ran his project.

    The world was not yet ready for commercial exploration, because NASA has a corner on the market for that kind of thing.

    Open source may be fine for computers and software, because the business model allows for everyone else to be able to use your product on whatever platform they have. This business model has not worked well for many other industries, and space is not much different. This is why SpaceX does not patent its ideas that cannot be seen by observers. Proprietary information is vital to most companies.

    NASA forces a form of “open source” for experiments performed on the ISS. Because the American taxpayer spent so very, very much on this “National Laboratory,” NASA figures that data collected there should be shared with the entire world within five years of collection. I see this as an impediment for any companies that want to learn something that advantages them over others. I see this problem as a reason for private space stations, so that companies can finally make unique products without fear that anyone else will beat them to market. At that point, we should start seeing a lot of new products that could only be made or developed in continuous freefall.

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