In a ceremony in Russia yesterday, Roscosmos’s Energomash division completed and handed over ownership to ULA six RD-180 engines, to be used in ULA’s Atlas 5 rocket.
These are the last such engines required as part of the contract. They will also likely be the last Russian engines ULA will ever buy. The company is retiring its Atlas 5 rocket, which requires them, and replacing it with its Vulcan rocket, which will instead use Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine.
Furthermore, as of September 1st, 2021 such commercial space contracts with Russia will be difficult to obtain because of new sanctions imposed on Russia by the Biden administration.
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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