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.

Rogozin: Russia mostly bowing out of Gateway

The new colonial movement: The head of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, yesterday announced during a speech at a virtual international space conference that Russia is mostly bowing out of participation in the U.S. lunar Gateway space station project, and will instead seek cooperation with China’s lunar program.

Russia apparently does not like the fact that the U.S. is insisting on taking a lead role in Gateway, and have it designed to primarily meet U.S. goals. Russia has also previously expressed opposition to the Trump administration’s insistence that any partners in Gateway sign the Artemis Accords, designed to provide legal protection for any private investment in space.

Whether they can get the deal they want from China remains very uncertain. China has made it clear they are willing to work with other partners, but China has also made it clear that they — like the U.S. — have their own goals in space, and that anything they do must serve those goals.

In his response, Bridenstine focused on the areas of agreement with Russia (establishing technical standards), but reiterated the U.S.’s commitment to the Artemis Accords. It is clear the Trump administration is fine with Russia’s decision.

For the U.S. Russia’s decision is probably a good thing. It leaves the way open to do what we want, without having to negotiate every decision. (This puts aside the issue on whether Gateway itself is a good decision.)

For Russia this announcement means they are really on their own for the first time since the Soviet era. Following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 Russia has largely been incapable of developing any new space project, and has needed to link its effort to the U.S. and ISS in order to be able to accomplish much of anything. Breaking free might actually benefit them, as the competition will force them to focus on their own efforts and actually achieve something.


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  • David

    For the last decade or so, Russia has produced wonderful concepts, sometimes executed a design, and occasionally even produced a few “production” articles. They’ve run off a few examples of what seem to be amazing fighter planes and tanks, for example. And they have lots of paper plans for amazing rockets and expeditionary plans, even some test hardware. Angara looks like a slightly better Delta IV for example, and the Federation capsule might be on par with Orion. But then they never follow through with series production.

    I’ve sometimes wondered if this is somewhat deliberate, and they’re just keeping their R&D pipeline busy and up to date without any actual intent of ever trying to follow through and produce this stuff. That would make more sense than that they keep coming up with plan after plan that they simply have no hope of funding. And if some miracle, or some disaster, happens and they either can or must actually spin up production, they have modern designs ready to go.

  • pzatchok

    Russia ! The tip of the technology spear.

    Granted this is only a museum display…. but seriously??

  • LocalFluff

    I think it is because Putin rules with corruption as constitution. It doesn’t affect design and development as much as production when the money starts rolling. Putin’s loyal kleptocrats are lousy at getting things done. Their new spaceport and Angara never seem to get ready. Another example is their new tank that seems very good, but manufactured in very low numbers. And so on. It’s not that they couldn’t afford these things, it’s a matter of corrupt organization.

    Putin takes questions from the general public in a show once a year. He was asked if he would stop bureaucrats’ children inheriting their parent’s job. Putin answered half jokingly: “- No, because generals also have children.”

  • Dick Eagleson

    Excellent news! We should be pleased that there will be no “official Russians” anywhere near the Moon.

    Mr. Rogozin’s announcement is simply a PR exercise for domestic consumption to make it look as though Russia’s non-participation in Artemis was a choice and not an inevitable consequence of Russia’s now-chronic penury. If China’s own Moon program is subsequently curtailed or cancelled due to that nation’s own deteriorating domestic circumstances, the Russians will have yet another excuse for non-presence on Luna.

    Now the question becomes one of whether the Russians will manage to stick it out until ISS’s decommissioning before their manned spaceflight program folds for good, or whether that will occur earlier for reasons of insufficient funds. The answer is probably closely linked to the success – or lack of same – of the radical increase in tourist rides to ISS the Russians are planning to gin up. If that initiative fizzles, the Russians may well have to bow out of ISS well in advance of its retirement. Let’s just say I wouldn’t exactly be broken-hearted were that to occur.

    Whichever proves true, one hopes at least some of Russia’s excellent cosmonauts and other quality Russian space program veterans find their way to the U.S. as private citizens to work for – or even found – U.S.-based NewSpace companies. We’ve already seen Momentus founded here by the refugee co-founder of Dauria Aerospace after that Russian start-up got big enough to attract the covetous gaze of one of Putin’s pet oligarchs. In Russia, the reward for successful entrepreneurship is expropriation, not a big-buck IPO.

    I should also think SpaceX will soon have many open slots for people with previous practical spaceflight experience in support of future LEO, lunar and Mars projects.

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