The new colonial movement: According to a press release from iSpace, one of the pseudo-private companies that China’s government is allowing to exist, the reason its February 1st launch failed was because a piece of foam broke off from the rocket.
According to iSpace a piece of foam insulation, intended to fall off, struck and impeded one of four grid fins at the base of the first stage. The insulation foam later fell free, resulting an a change of angle of the grid fin and then subsequent rapid change of attitude and breakup of the launch vehicle.
The loss of the mission coincidentally followed 18 years to the day of the Columbia disaster. A piece of foam insulation broke off from the Space Shuttle’s external tank during launch and damaged a wing of the Orbiter, later leading to catastrophe on reentry.
ISpace is the only pseudo-private company in China to have successfully achieved an orbital launch, achieving that in July 2019 with its Hyperbola-1 rocket. It appears they redesigned the rocket significantly, and intend with its next iteration, Hyperbola-2, to attempt vertical landings. The grid fins and foam on the failed rocket were probably early tests of that technology. They are aiming to begin vertical hop tests next year.
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.
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