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My annual February birthday month fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black is now over. It was the best February campaign ever, and the second best of all of my month-long fund-raising campaigns.

 

There were too many people who contributed to thank you all personally. If I did so I would not have time for the next day or so to actually do any further posts, and I suspect my supporters would prefer me posting on space and culture over getting individual thank you notes.

 

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SpaceX drops protest against NASA launch decision

SpaceX has decided to withdraw its protest against NASA’s decision to choose ULA as the launch vehicle for its Lucy asteroid mission.

The company did not provide any reason for the withdrawal. I suspect Musk decided that it was doing SpaceX harm both publicly and privately. Publicly it threatened the launch date of Lucy, which might cause a significant and fatal delay to the mission. That did not make SpaceX look good to the general public.

Privately, I suspect that the protest was hurting SpaceX with NASA officials. They almost certainly did not say so directly, but I am certain they were able to make this clear in any number of ways. This, combined with the agency’s new willingness to consider commercial rockets, like the Falcon Heavy, for its lunar plans, probably convinced SpaceX that it was doing itself more harm than good with the protest.

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.
 

3 comments

  • Wodun

    Spacex is also busy right now. Taking some time to get all their projects dialed in is a good thing to do. Adding a mission like Lucy might not be a big deal on its own but it might reduce their overall efficiency for the near future.

  • Dick Eagleson

    Bridenstine has been talking a lot recently about how a Falcon Heavy could launch an ICPS-Orion stack to the Moon as part of that boots-on-the-Moon-in-2024 thing. I think we may well see a formal deal among NASA, SpaceX, ULA and LockMart for development of such a vehicle stack in the near future as both a backstop and a goad to the MSFC-Boeing-SLS team.

    One reason for the protest was that the Lucy mission was something the Falcon Heavy could do. Another reason, no doubt, was annoyance at all the renewed and ramped-up back-room political static Spacex was getting again from NASA and elsewhere via the Alabama Mafia in recent months.

    But developing a real version of Bridenstine’s spitballed Frankenrocket concept could mean a lot of future FH orders from NASA. Plus, SpaceX would need to make nice with ULA to get said job done so – poof! – no more protest.

  • Richard M

    I strongly suspect that SpaceX got what it was really seeking when it filed the protest – the rationale that led NASA to give the launch to ULA. Just off the record.

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