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.
 

NASA fixes SLS issue, prepares for full hot fire engine test of core stage

My heart be still! NASA engineers have successfully fixed a valve on the inside of the core stage of the agency’s SLS rocket, making it possible for the continuation of the ongoing test program leading up to its first and only full static fire test on December 21st of the rocket’s core stage, prior to the rocket’s first launch.

Over the weekend, engineers at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, successfully repaired a valve inside the core stage of the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. The team designed an innovative tool to remove and replace the valve’s faulty clutch while the core stage remained in the B-2 test stand, and without removing the entire valve. Subsequent testing of the repaired valve confirmed that the system is operating as intended.

If that static fire test fails for any reason, it will likely delay the first Artemis launch by at least a year, if not longer. Right now there is a slim chance that SpaceX’s Starship will complete its first orbital launch before SLS (which NASA has been developing for only seventeen years). Further delays would almost guarantee it.

Such an event will make the entire SLS program appear kind of stupid, irrelevant, and an utter waste of money. But then, SLS is exactly that, a wasteful boondoggle designed not to get American astronauts into space but to spend money in Congressional districts and states. These corrupt legislators actually like the delay and failure, because it extends the contracts and funnels more money to their constituents over a longer period of time. Who cares if anything ever really gets accomplished, or the interests of the U.S. are advanced? What really matters is making sure Congressmen get photo ops, and their big space backers get contracts so they can continue to make campaign contributions.

Readers! My Quick November Fund-Raiser for Behind the Black is now over
 

I cannot thank the numerous people who so generously donated or subscribed to Behind the Black during this fund drive. The response was remarkable, and reflected the steady growth and popularity of the work I have been doing here for the past ten-plus years.


Thank you again!


Though the find-raising campaign is officially over, and I am no longer plastering the main page with requests for help, if you like what you have read you can still contribute, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.


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One comment

  • LocalFluff

    Haven’t these very engines flown before on the space shuttle? Literally been in orbit and come home. Oh, what a challenge it is to make them fly just one more time.

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