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.

Roscosmos announces two commercial tourist flights to ISS

Capitalism in space: Roscosmos, the government corporation that controls of all of Russia’s space industry, announced today that it will be flying two different commercial tourist flights to ISS, both occurring before the end of this year.

The first will take place in October.

Roscosmos [is] sending an actress and a director to the ISS in October with the aim of making the first feature film in space. The film, whose working title is “Challenge,” is being co-produced by the flamboyant head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, and state-run network Channel One.

The second will take place in December, and will fly Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa (the man who has already purchased a Moon mission on SpaceX’s Starship) and his assistant Yozo Hirano in a Soyuz capsule to ISS for twelve days.

Let’s review the upcoming tourist flights now scheduled:

  • July: The first suborbital tourist flight on Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft.
  • September: SpaceX will fly four tourists on a three-day orbital mission in its Resilience capsule.
  • October: Roscosmos will fly two to ISS on its Soyuz capsule to make a movie.
  • December: Roscosmos will fly two to ISS as a preliminary to Maezawa’s lunar mission on Starship.
  • January: Axiom will use a SpaceX capsule to launch four to ISS.

Axiom also says it has two other tourist flights in the works. Nor does that include potential flights on Boeing’s Starliner capsule, once it becomes operational. It also doesn’t include that Maezawa flight on Starship, or future suborbital flights on New Shepard. In addition, NASA says that the demand for such tourist flights to ISS is far greater than the station’s docking ports can handle.

None of these flights will use government money. All are privately funded.

After more than a half century of all space exploration controlled and paid for entirely by governments — with little of significance getting accomplished — it now appears that private enterprise, competition, and freedom are quite successfully pushing the human race to the stars. And it is happening without one dime of government money.

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17 comments

  • Kyle

    Up next, private space stations and mining operations. We are living in the future.

  • Gary

    Will be interesting to see if this business shifts to Roscosmos for customer’s who don’t want to pay NASA’s new rates.

  • Doubting Thomas

    Although not in the same category, Blue Origin says they will fly their first New Shepard sub-orbital flight on anniversary of first landing on moon, this year

  • Doubting Thomas

    Robert – I messed up – I see you had it there already…sorry!

  • Col Beausabre

    “None of these flights will use government money. All are privately funded.”

    That the Russian flight isn’t paid for Putin’s propaganda arm is something I find hard to believe

    “The film, whose working title is “Challenge,” is being co-produced by the flamboyant head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, and state-run network Channel One”

    “….state-run network….”

    I rest my case. Private “my shiny metal you know what” (to paraphrase Bender)

  • Jeff Wright

    R-7 is one of the things the Russians made good money on-but the real “peace” dividend is their magnificent ice-breaker fleet that I’m green with envy over. Sea Dragon would fit them.

  • Edward

    Scott Manley has a ten-minute discussion on this topic:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s78jbYXsebk
    “To compare, between 2001 and 2009, there were eight private astronaut flights over eight years, seven people in total, because one of them wanted to go twice. Now, in the next twelve months, we’re going to have more tourists than that whole eight years., and that’s pretty darn cool.”

    What is the difference? As Robert noted, until this year “… all space exploration [was] controlled and paid for entirely by governments — with little of significance getting accomplished — it now appears that private enterprise, competition, and freedom are quite successfully pushing the human race to the stars.

    When you let government run things, all you get is what government wants. When We the People run things we get what we want. And we want so much more than the government does.

    The first thing that we wanted was low-cost access to space. We had expected it back in the 1980s with the Space Shuttle, but it wasn’t a priority for government, but when the Shuttle disappointed us, the government was not eager to solve the cost problem. Instead, when they retired the Shuttle they came up with a more expensive and less frequent rocket for access to space — a leap in the wrong direction.

    We the People have solved the accessibility problem, and we want to go there ourselves. Instead of depending solely on government for access, private commercial companies are eager to satisfy the demand for people to go to space in person, rather than experience it vicariously through government astronauts.

    Soon we will want goods and services that are only possible due to that low-cost access to space.

  • mkent

    After more than a half century of all space exploration controlled and paid for entirely by governments — with little of significance getting accomplished — it now appears that private enterprise, competition, and freedom are quite successfully pushing the human race to the stars. And it is happening without one dime of government money.

    Really now. Not one dime of government money? It was Russian government money that designed and built the Soyuz capsule and Soyuz rocket that the film crews are going up in, not to mention the launch site they will be launching from. It was American government money that designed and built the Dragon capsule that the Axiom astronauts will be going up in (though the Falcon rocket was largely designed with private money). It was also American, Russian, Japanese, European, and Canadian government money that designed and built the ISS that these flights will be going to.

    This doesn’t even get into the 75 years of technological innovation “controlled and paid for entirely by governments” that made even the private parts of these flights possible. Without NASA’s, USAF’s, and Russia’s “accomplishments of little significance”, none of this would even exist. Not Falcon. Not Dragon. Not Soyuz. Not ISS. Not New Shepard.

    This is what I mean when I talk about cultish behavior. It’s not enough to admire the advances being made by “Newspace” endeavors while acknowledging and appreciating the innovation of previous generations that made them possible. Those innovations must be dismissed and denigrated. Doing so is not just rude, it creates a distorted perception of reality. This is not just internet banter. Those distortions can have tragic consequences if they influence public policy.

  • Ron Desmarais

    “ Axiom also says it has two other tourist flights in the works. Nor does that include potential flights on Boeing’s Starliner capsule, once it becomes operational. It also doesn’t include that Maezawa flight on Starship, or future suborbital flights on New Shepard. In addition, NASA says that the demand for such tourist flights to ISS is far greater than the station’s docking ports can handle.”

    Building modular space stations takes a lot of time and is expensive, add to that the cost of getting those modules into orbit. Wouldn’t it make more sense for SpaceX to build a Lunar Starship with a docking port in the nose (or elsewhere) and put it into orbit as a destination for tourism and/or research? You could then add a docking adaptor to accommodate multiple vehicles.. It seems to me that this could be a faster, cost effective path to expanding on-orbit facilities to support the increasing demand. The environmental and power systems needed on the Lunar Starship would be similar to (or possibly less demanding than) those needed for an on-orbit facility and it could be launched into orbit in one piece.

  • Edward

    We have seen over the past three quarters of a century that governments around the world have placed a low priority on commercial use of space. This is especially noticeable in the Outer Space Treaty. Despite the ISS becoming more commerce friendly, it was not designed with this in mind, thus we see that there are not enough docking ports to handle the traffic we would otherwise expect.

    It seems that every available seat on every available spacecraft has been filled for the next year (although, technically, the New Shepard seat is not yet filled, there will definitely be someone in it when if flies), plus Tom Cruz and his camera man seem to be looking for seats on another flight.

    Axiom is about to add at least one module to the ISS for the specific purpose of space tourism. However, with the limitations on docking space, Axiom’s business is similarly limited. I expect Axiom to move toward an independent space station sooner rather than later.

    SpaceX may also find an advantage to using a Starship as a space station, not only for tourists but for its own research of long duration missions, such as voyages to Mars.

    At this point there does not seem to be much interest for an independent research space station, but that may only be due to a lack of such a station. Once commercial manned spacecraft became available, demand for them became noticeable. This may happen with commercial space stations, too. NASA insists that all data collected on ISS become public domain after five years, but a commercial space station may allow a company to keep its data private forever. There can be a great advantage to that kind of service.

    However, if Axiom, SpaceX, or any other company does not put up an independent space station in the next five years, then ULA’s CisLunar 1000 vision is more than five years behind schedule.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxftPmpt7aA (7 minutes, “ULA CisLunar-1000”)

    Right now, it seems to me that this vision is at least three years behind schedule, but that is because I have given up all hope that Bigelow will restart its business and put up independent space stations in the next year or two, but I think that SpaceX just might in the next couple of years or so.

    Governments may have a low priority on commercializing space, but there is visible demand for it. The question is: how fast and how well can commercial companies meet that demand?

  • Edward

    mkent wrote: “It was Russian government money that designed and built the Soyuz capsule and Soyuz rocket that the film crews are going up in, not to mention the launch site they will be launching from. It was American government money that designed and built the Dragon capsule that the Axiom astronauts will be going up in (though the Falcon rocket was largely designed with private money). It was also American, Russian, Japanese, European, and Canadian government money that designed and built the ISS that these flights will be going to.

    This doesn’t even get into the 75 years of technological innovation “controlled and paid for entirely by governments” that made even the private parts of these flights possible. Without NASA’s, USAF’s, and Russia’s “accomplishments of little significance”, none of this would even exist.

    It’s the old “you didn’t build that” argument all over again. There is no such thing as commercial space, because it all depends upon government. government supplies its all, from the education you use to start and run your company to the roads that get your raw materials to your plant and your finished goods to your customers.

    This is what I mean when I talk about cultish behavior.

    Anyone not kowtowing to government is a cultist? Anyone who believes that he can build his own company and provide goods or services is a cultist? Government innovated suborbital space tourism and reusable first stages? mkent cannot be serious.

    Government hindered all these things. In fifty years, how many government space stations have there been, and in the next fifty years how many commercial space stations will there be?

    We let government be in charge and little of significance got accomplished. Once again, mkent cannot be serious.

  • pzatchok

    What if SpaceX subcontracts through Roscosmos?
    Would NASA still charge the extra fees?
    Or would they only charge those fees if the ship docks at the American side?

  • mkent

    It’s the old “you didn’t build that” argument all over again. There is no such thing as commercial space, because it all depends upon government. government supplies its all, from the education you use to start and run your company to the roads that get your raw materials to your plant and your finished goods to your customers.

    I mentioned neither education nor roads in my comment. You made that up, apparently because you can’t refute my actual argument. So it is you who is unserious. Or are you really denying that the Soyuz capsule and launch vehicle were developed and built with Russian government money and that the ISS was developed and built with American, Russian, Japanese, European, and Canadian money?

    Anyone not kowtowing to government is a cultist? Anyone who believes that he can build his own company and provide goods or services is a cultist? Government innovated suborbital space tourism and reusable first stages? mkent cannot be serious.

    Again you made up things that I didn’t say in order to denigrate me, apparently because my actual words were too sensible. You are the one not making a serious argument but a tribal one. If you could make a serious argument we could have a serious discussion, but that appears to be impossible. Judging by your interactions with other commenters on other threads, I’m not the first one to notice this.

  • Edward

    mkent,
    Apparently, you don’t remember Obama’s “You didn’t build that” speech, but I shouldn’t have been surprised that you don’t know it. It is too bad that your ignorance gets in your way. It was Obama who made that speech, patterned on an obscure statement from Elizabeth Warren. Your argument is a restatement of Obama’s. Thus, my response to your argument is both serious and valid, as Obama’s speech was a failure, just as is your own version of it.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GjqdP6KSOE (1/2 minute)

    Your argument is that commercial space did not develop what it developed, because government did it for them. However, commercial space has developed its own systems, designed to be more efficient than the government’s versions, and this is what you have denied has happened.

    My argument was serious, and if yours was serious, too, then you have failed to learn from history and have repeated it.

  • mkent

    However, commercial space has developed its own systems, designed to be more efficient than the government’s versions, and this is what you have denied has happened.

    Are you seriously claiming that commercial space developed the Soyuz capsule? The Soyuz launch vehicle? The ISS? I don’t know what game you’re trying to play, but that’s delusional.

  • Edward

    mkent,
    I see another of your problems. You conflated a paying passenger with the developer of the system used. You seem to have missed the part where the Russians are willing to take paying passengers as profit, that they receive more in compensation than they expend to deliver the service. Instead, you seem to insist that the paying passenger is subsidized unless he pays for the entire development of the system he uses, forgetting to apply any kind of amortization for the prior use by the government or for future use.

    You have complained about my argument techniques, but yours are truly silly.

    By the way, as a requirement of the CRS contract, the companies had to find outside investors in order to fund the development, and these expenditures were repaid as they fulfilled the contract. That is how Dragon was funded and paid for. Orbital Sciences got their contract when Kistler was unable to find outside investors, the first task of the contracts.

    If the paying passengers were only paying the cost of the flight plus a 10% profit, then each seat would cost closer to $15 million. Instead, the seats are much more expensive, because they are among the customers compensating for the development costs. Then you should consider the time that the customer uses the spacecraft. The civilian flight in September is only for a few days, but NASA uses it for six months at a time. NASA’s fair share of the development costs are far greater than the share for civilian riders.

    This is a major benefit to ending the government monopsony on space travel. As commercial space grows, the government will be able to share development costs with other customers. At the time of the CRS contract, there was no hope that there would be other customers for the spacecraft being developed, so the contract necessarily had to compensate for the entire development and operation of the resupply service. Fortunately, things are changing, and Starship is being developed on speculation that there will be customers in the near future, just as was the case for Falcon Heavy.

    I have assumed that you live in a free market capitalist country, but your limited knowledge on how business works suggests otherwise.

  • Edward

    pzatchok asked some interesting questions:
    What if SpaceX subcontracts through Roscosmos?
    Would NASA still charge the extra fees?
    Or would they only charge those fees if the ship docks at the American side?

    Since U.S. ships only have the capability to dock at three U.S. ports, the last question is moot — or all important. However, the first two questions could be answered by knowing whether or not NASA charges tourists who contract through Roscosmos.

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