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.

Russia launches another 36 OneWeb satellites

Capitalism in space: Russia today launched another 36 OneWeb satellites from its Vostochny spaceport using its Soyuz-2 rocket.

This raises the number of OneWeb satellites in orbit to 254.

The leaders in the 2021 launch race:

20 SpaceX
18 China
11 Russia
3 Northrop Grumman

The U.S. remains ahead of China, 29 to 18, in the national rankings.


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  • I have never been able to figure out how you do these counts.

    America has 29
    SpaceX has 20
    Northrop Grumman has 3

    Where are the other 6?

    Thank you for explaining it to me.

  • Darwin Teague: The leader list is only the LEADERS. There are other American companies that have launches (Rocket Lab, Virgin Orbit, etc) but not enough to make the leader board.

    At the end of the year I will publish a full graph, as I have done every year for the past four. See:

    The state of the global rocket industry in the 21st century

  • mkent

    Darwin: SpaceX 20, Northrop 3, ULA 2, Rocket Lab 2, and Virgin Orbit 2.

    This comes up a lot.

    I agree that Bob’s table is confusing since it mixes foreign countries and American companies. It would be clearer and more consistent to combine the American numbers into a single entry in the table and use the text to pull out SpaceX and the other American companies. The way he does it, it’s not clear at all unless you dig into the details that it is America, not China, that is leading the launch race.

    But Bob wants to highlight SpaceX, not America, so he does what he does. His blog — his rules.

  • mkent: My goal is to highlight the success of all American companies, driven by profit, capitalism, and private ownership. If ULA was doing what SpaceX was doing I’d be thrilled, and it would get highlighted quite nicely. They aren’t. Neither is Blue Origin, yet. Or Rocket Lab, despite many promises.

    I eagerly await the day that all begin showing up in the leader board, so that SpaceX doesn’t dominate. It isn’t up to me, or SpaceX however. It is up to them.

  • mkent

    Robert: My comment isn’t about SpaceX vs. ULA vs. Northrop Grumman, etc. Comparing company vs. company is legitimate, as is showing how SpaceX is dominating the American launch market.

    But the confusion with your chart is that it compares American companies with foreign countries. For most of last year, the chart made it look like China, not the United States, was the world launch leader. A casual glance at the chart right now would show the same thing.

    I know enough about the launch industry that I can parse your chart and understand its meaning. But based on the frequency of questions very much like Darwin’s — it seems to happen about once every three or four times you post the chart — a lot of people do not. The chart seems to confuse, not clarify.

    I’m suggesting that putting all of the American launches under a single line titled “America” with the American companies split out in the text below instead of the other way around would reduce the confusion. Or perhaps breaking out the American companies in an indented sub-list under the “America” line instead of in the text would be even better.

    It would, perhaps, reduce the number of times you have to answer the same question.

  • mkent

    Something like:

    29 America
    —– 20 SpaceX
    —— 3 Northrop Grumman
    —— 2 ULA
    —— 2 Rocket Lab
    —— 2 Virgin Orbit
    20 China
    11 Russia
    1 India
    1 Europe

    …but with the hyphens replaced with the proper html code to indent the subgroup properly.

  • mkent

    My chart above still shows SpaceX dominating the American launch market, but it also shows America dominating the world launch market. It also shows at a glance one other thing. Space launch is beginning to be the United States, China, and everyone else. That’s even more apparent when you consider that nearly half of Russia’s launches are OneWeb launches and a South Korean rideshare.

    And THAT shows one other important point. SPACE is beginning to be the United States, China, and everyone else. Once the OneWeb launches are over, Russia will have a niche launching Progress and Soyuz capsules to the ISS, and Europe will have a space science niche. Nearly everything else will be either the United States or China.

    And THAT drives debate to your overall free market vs. controlled market point. How that plays out throughout the 21st century will be a pretty good indicator of the future of humanity.

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