Please consider donating to Behind the Black, 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.


Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:


Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to

Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

Next Angara test flight in December

The competition heats up: According to one Russian official, the next test flight of Russia’s new Angara rocket will take place before the end of December.

Another Russian news story says that the Angara test program will involve ten flights and that the target cost for the rocket’s most powerful configuration will be around $100 million. Depending on how much payload this configuration can put in orbit, this price makes it very competitive with SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy.

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. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

One comment

  • geoffc

    It depends on what they mean by most powerful Angara model.

    Angara 5? (One center core, 4 side boosters. Not clear if doing propellant cross feed). Angara 7? New much larger center core, 7 side boosters?

    Other things that have been called Angara over the last decade or so of its development.

    Or maybe just a simple Angara 3?

    Each Angara core is using an RD-191 engine, which is 1/4 of a RD-170 (RD-180 of Atlas V fame is 1/2 an RD-170). So around 400-500Klbs of thrust. A single core is just not that powerful.

    Two cores just bring it into the range of lift thrust that Atlas V already has.

Readers: the rules for commenting!


No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.


However, name-calling and obscenities will not be tolerated. First time offenders who are new to the site will be warned. Second time offenders or first time offenders who have been here awhile will be suspended for a week. After that, I will ban you. Period.


Note also that first time commenters as well as any comment with more than one link will be placed in moderation for my approval. Be patient, I will get to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *