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.

Russian oxygen regenerator malfunctions again

The Russian oxygen regenerator in the Zvezda module of ISS has malfunctioned again, the second time in a week.

“After the Elektron-VM system was deactivated, the crew, guided by the main operational group, dismantled it in order to detect faults. Oxygen will be generated by a backup system located in the US section until repairs are completed,” the spokesperson said.

This unit was launched with Zvezda in 2000. After ten years of operation it needed repair In 2010, and then operated for another ten years until last week’s failure. Though this second failure after last week’s repair could be fixable, the age of the unit raises reasonable questions about its future.

That it has worked for twenty years, and could still be fixed, speaks well for this Russian design however. Its longevity reminds me of home appliances from the mid-20th century, which routinely were expected to last many decades, and did.

If the time has come to replace it, however, I have doubts about any new “upgraded” unit. Technology development in both Russia and the U.S. has fallen in love with complexity, which often results in less reliability, shorter lifespans, and often units that fail to do what they were designed for. I fear the same would happen with any new unit.

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