The competition heats up? The Russians have delayed until late 2016 the first test flight of the heavy-lift version of their new Angara rocket so that they can fly it with its own new upper stage, rather than using the trouble-plagued Briz upper stage used on Proton.
In other words, they want to dump all the components of the Proton as soon as possible. Whether this will solve the quality control problems that seem to be systemic to their aerospace industry however remains questionable. If I was a commercial satellite company I would have as little faith in Angara, until it has proven itself through a number of launches.
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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