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 reorganizes its manned space bureaucracy

Gotta rearrange those deck chairs! NASA has finally completed a long-planned reorganization of its manned space bureaucracy, first begun several years ago.

At a Sept. 16 Washington Space Business Roundtable webinar, Kathy Lueders, who took over as NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations three months ago, said that NASA Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk formally approved a reorganization of her mission directorate the previous day. “It addressed some of the concerns that folks have had and is really getting us set up for our future missions going forward,” she said of the reorganization.

Those concerns include findings from a review called a Program Status Assessment carried out earlier this year. That review cited issues with system engineering oversight for the Artemis program and a lack of a formal Artemis program organization. “We are also using these adjustments to solidify and better define division roles,” the agency said in a statement to SpaceNews.

NASA does this Potemkin-type reorganization about once every decade or so, with little major effect other than to allow the upper management preen itself as it makes believe it has accomplished something. This particular rearrangement however might be a bit more beneficial that past ones, in that it appears aimed at aligning the agency’s bureaucracy with its new status of being a customer of the private sector, rather than its boss and overseer.

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  • “We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralisation.”
    — Petronius Arbiter, 58 A.D.

  • Tom Billings

    Stephen, … and Petronius, are correct. When training for something which they really want to get right, which is hard, needing high productivity, whether it is in widgets produced, or in Pilums hitting their targets, people tend to form into teams. That’s good, and a reflection of the old “party/gang “social structure humans evolved in for 2 million years.

    The problem, as far as bureaucracies are concerned, is that teams that gel together also have a habit of, more often than individuals, telling their bureaucracy heads, “No!” When the layers of bureaucracy extend all the way up into Congress, which too often cares more about where the money goes than about how effectively it produces anything, the intermediaries will find themselves shuffling assignments and positions just enough to keep the funding flowing down the hierarchy from Congress, while keeping the actual production at least acceptable. Sometimes they get it right. Too often, they don’t.

  • Edward

    Done right, a reorganization breaks up emerging internal empires and removes deadwood. Since three or more people were in charge of this reorganization. over time, it is hard to say whether it was done right.

  • Col Beausabre

    Tom, Wouldn’t that be pila….The pilum was the Roman javelin. Each man carried two, one light, one heavy

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