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 spacewalk to inspect leak in Zvezda

The Russian spacewalk to inspect the outside location of the air leak in the Zvezda module on ISS has now been scheduled for November 18, 2020, and NASA will be providing a live stream.

Live coverage of the Russian spacewalk will begin at 8:30 a.m. EST on NASA Television and the agency’s website. The spacewalk is expected to begin about 9:30 a.m.

Ryzhikov, designated extravehicular crew member 1 (EV1), will wear a Russian Orlan spacesuit with red stripes, and Kud-Sverchkov will wear a spacesuit with blue stripes as extravehicular crew member 2 (EV2). This will be the 47th Russian spacewalk for assembly and maintenance of the station.

During the spacewalk, Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov will first conduct leak inspections outside the hatch, as this will be the first spacewalk using the Poisk module for its purpose as an airlock. Next, they will relocate an antenna from another module, the Pirs docking compartment, to Poisk, the first in a series of tasks over the course of several spacewalks that will prepare Pirs for decommissioning, undocking, and disposal. The Earth-facing Pirs will be replaced by the new Russian Multipurpose Laboratory Module, named “Nauka,” Russian for “science,” which is being prepared for launch at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

What they find could have a significant impact on the future of the space station.


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  • Jay

    So I thought the crack that they observed was on the inside of the Zvezda aft docking port? Now they are saying it is the Poisk module? That module is at the front on the zenith port of Zvezda.
    Are there two leaks? I know, the Russians are not sharing the information.

  • Jay: I think you misread the info. They will be exiting using the Poisk airlock. Nothing that I see suggests the crack is on that module.

  • Jay

    OK, when NASA-TV wrote “will first conduct leak inspections outside the hatch,” I thought that was one of the culprits. I stand corrected.

  • Jay: It is also possible that the crack was always in Poisk, but they have been unclear about it. They have said repeatedly that it was located in the “aft exit section” of Zvezda, which might be a vague way of referring to Poisk.

    Either way, I am sure we are only talking about one crack, and that watching the spacewalk will help clarify these doubts about its location and cause.

  • pzatchok

    I am surprised they can not photograph most if not all of the exterior with the maintenance arm.

    Or even a reaction motored small sat.

  • Edward

    pzatchok wrote: “I am surprised they can not photograph most if not all of the exterior with the maintenance arm.

    Most of the pressurized sections are covered in thermal protection blankets or other thermal material. To observe the outside of the structure likely requires that some of this material be peeled back a bit.

  • pzatchok

    But they could tell if a hole was from an impact since it would have to go through the blankets also.

  • wayne

    Hunt for Red October 1990
    “Russians Don’t Take A Dump, Son, Without A Plan…”

  • Edward

    pzatchok wrote: “But they could tell if a hole was from an impact since it would have to go through the blankets also.

    Perhaps, but could a camera spot a hole from a micrometeorite? Depending upon the material of the outer surface, a micrometeorite hole in the blanket may be hard to spot, even by an astronaut (cosmonaut). Either way, the object of the examination is to study any damage to the outside of the module, from whatever cause.

  • pzatchok

    It has been weeks.

    Something like this situation should have been imagined and a way to externally inspect the station should have been thought of years ago.

    This is another failure of NASA to find and solution to a problem they could have even passed it off to a collage someplace.

    They could have even kept a small sat drone inside the station and tested it inside before sending it outside.

    And they a;ready have cameras on the end on the maintenance arm. Over the last 20 years they could have tested it to find out exactly what it could see.

    I bet a nice infra-red camera(thermal) could see the escaping gas just fine.

  • Lee Stevenson

    @pzatchok, excellent idea regarding the thermal Camera!! But to be fair to NASA, the leak is in the Russian section, and to be fair to Russia, the tea bag solution to finding the leak was pure genius! ( Reminding me somewhat of the story of NASA spending a whole lot of money to develop a pen that works in zero G, and the Russians just using a pencil!)

  • Edward

    You wrote: “Something like this situation should have been imagined and a way to externally inspect the station should have been thought of years ago.

    They did imagine a puncture; they did imagine a way to inspect a hole or crack from the outside; and they are about to perform that action during a spacewalk that is already necessary for another purpose (two birds, one stone).

    It is nice that your space station will have enough budget (financial, weight, power, etc.) to be able to do all things, but in this case, personal inspection is what they want to do. They are interested in the condition of the metal, not the air that is coming out from under the thermal protection.

  • pzatchok

    They could have stuffed the funds for a small sat into the SLS funding since SLS will need one also.
    They could have then had it in space and already been testing it.

    Like it would take more than a single million dollars to design and manufacture a small sat with a few cameras on it.

    Call it inflight external inspection equipment for the SLS and gateway.
    Bang no budget problems.

  • Edward

    Why spend a million dollars when they can get better information for free during a routine spacewalk?

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