In its first Vostochny launch in 2019, Russia today used its Soyuz rocket to successfully launch a variety of weather, engineering, and Earth observation satellites totaling 33 into orbit.
As I write this the satellites are in orbit but have not yet been deployed by the rocket’s Fregat upper stage, a process that will take several hours as it moves them into a variety of orbits.
Many of the smaller satellites on this rockets are commercial cubesats, and are Russia’s effort to regain some of its lost commercial business that had been captured by SpaceX. They are also a sign of the changing launch business. Previously Russia’s commercial flights were all on its larger Proton rocket because the satellites were larger. Now the business is shifting to the smaller and recently more reliable Soyuz, because smaller satellites are beginning to dominate the industry.
The leaders in the 2019 launch race:
5 Europe (Arianespace)
3 Rocket Lab
The U.S. continues to lead China 14 to 9 in the national rankings.
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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