Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via Patreon or PayPal. To use Patreon, go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation. For PayPal click one of the following buttons:


Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If Patreon or Paypal don't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to

Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

Russia launches new crew to ISS

Russia tonight successfully launched a Soyuz capsule carrying a new three-person crew to ISS using its Soyuz-2 rocket.

The leaders in the 2020 launch race:

26 China
16 SpaceX
11 Russia
4 Europe (Arianespace)

The U.S. and China remained tied at 26 in the national rankings.

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.


  • Captain Emeritus

    How long are we going to rent rides to our space station, from the barbaric, murderous, russian communists?

  • Captain Emeritus: This was the last paid-for ride. Future rides will be by barter, we on their ship in exchange for them on ours. This is to make sure everyone knows how everything works, which is just common sense.

  • pzatchok

    All they really need for the Space X ride home is to pick out their in flight meal and movie.

  • Chris

    Space x plus ula = 20, how do we (usa) get to 26?

  • Chris: I am only listing the leaders. The U.S. has two other launch companies, Rocket Lab and Northrop Grumman, that have also completed launches, but not enough to make the leader board.

    In January I will publish the full list, with my annual launch report. Go here for the 2019 report.

Readers: the rules for commenting!


No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.


However, name-calling and obscenities will not be tolerated. First time offenders who are new to the site will be warned. Second time offenders or first time offenders who have been here awhile will be suspended for a week. After that, I will ban you. Period.


Note also that first time commenters as well as any comment with more than one link will be placed in moderation for my approval. Be patient, I will get to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *