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.

SpaceX launches 52 Starlink + 2 customer satellites

Capitalism in space: SpaceX today successfully launched another 52 Starlink satellites along with two smallsat satellites.

They have put just under 1,700 Starlink satellites into orbit. The first stage completed its 8th launch, and the fourth in 2021, according to the SpaceX announcer. Let me repeat that: That’s four launches of the first stage in less than five months. The fairing halves were also flying on their second flight.

The leaders in the 2021 launch race:

15 SpaceX
12 China
7 Russia
2 Rocket Lab

The U.S. now leads China 20 to 12 in the national rankings.

Readers!
 

Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.


Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via Patreon or PayPal. To use Patreon, go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation. For PayPal click one of the following buttons:
 


 

Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


 

If Patreon or Paypal don't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
 

Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

18 comments

  • mkent

    SpaceX today successfully launched another 52 Starlink satellites along with two smallsat satellites.

    Not yet. All of the satellites are still attached to the upper stage in a parking orbit.

  • Jay

    The Tyvak-0130 and a Capella Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites are deployed.

  • Willi

    Best video EVER of first stage from separation to landing.

  • mkent

    Payload deployment is now confirmed. Successful mission.

    Best video EVER of first stage from separation to landing.

    That WAS pretty darn amazing.

  • eddie willers

    Best video EVER of first stage from separation to landing.

    Camera positioned so that we caught the drone ship the earliest I have seen.
    Boat. Target. Touchdown!

  • Good to hear … in related news, Glenn Reynolds (aka the Instapundit) is now up-and-running on Starlink from east Tennessee and reporting good results so far.

  • Patrick Underwood

    Yep, awesome video!

    But I’m still waiting to see one of those Navy thingamabobs zipping about near the ASDS. :)

  • Gary

    I figured this is the place to get an answer for my question of the day. I have a friend who is trying to convince me that NASA “gave” the Merlin engine to SpaceX. He doesn’t provide a lot of evidence for this. My research hasn’t turned up this gift. Do y’all have any idea what that “gave Merlin to NASA” could mean? Thanks.

  • Gary: Though rocket engines have been developed for the last seven decades both with and without NASA help, to say that NASA “gave” the Merlin engine to SpaceX exhibits not only a level of ignorance that is appalling, it is also sadly not surprising.

    SpaceX engineers used knowledge gained (some of it from direct experience) from the many engines built since the 1950s to design a new rocket engine that would provide the company what it wanted. It is thus SpaceX’s wholly.

    Moreover, NASA did not pay for that Merlin engine development. SpaceX developed it first using Elon Musk’s private capital. Once it was demonstrated to work the company was then able to win the big cargo and manned contracts from NASA that have since helped pay for its refinement and improvement (by SpaceX, not NASA).

    Your friend’s statement suggests he gets his information solely from NASA press releases, designed to make everyone believe that all space achievement comes from NASA solely. In truth NASA has accomplished remarkably little in almost a half century. Its planetary missions are usually built and run by JPL or APL, its big space telescopes run by SPSciI in Maryland, and its rockets and space station modules are built by private contractors hired by NASA. And in the past two decades only in the design of Orion and SLS has NASA contributed heavily, and that hasn’t gotten anyone very much.

  • Jeff Wright

    I would like SpaceX to do a best-of mash-up of the finest camera footage. This mission had the best landing as seen from Falcon…but you would show another mission’s drone ship footage and spice them together. Start with the explosions… then the best launch…fairing jettison.

    Then show Dragon…but explain it needs no fairing..a few best of shots. Then the upper stage. And the footage of it coming down as debris but explaining that it usually comes down over the ocean and that…with Starship…everything comes back,

  • @ Jeff Wright

    Should be enough material publically available to do what you are looking for. If not, contact SpaceX, they might go for it.

  • mkent

    I figured this is the place to get an answer for my question of the day. I have a friend who is trying to convince me that NASA “gave” the Merlin engine to SpaceX. He doesn’t provide a lot of evidence for this. My research hasn’t turned up this gift. Do y’all have any idea what that “gave Merlin to NASA” could mean? Thanks.

    The Merlin engine used on the Falcon 9 is a derivative of the Fastrac engine developed by NASA in the 1990s for use on the X-34. It’s a pretty major stretch to say that “NASA gave the Merlin engine to SpaceX.” That severely downplays the work that Tom Mueller and his propulsion team put in to create the Merlin engine. While the Merlin engine is derived from the Fastrac engine, it’s a significant departure from it and qualifies as a new engine. Tom Mueller and SpaceX deserve credit for this feat of 21st century engineering.

    For comparison, figure that Merlin is to Fastrac as the RS-68 is to the SSME.

    Your friend’s statement suggests he gets his information solely from NASA press releases, designed to make everyone believe that all space achievement comes from NASA solely.

    I don’t believe NASA ever put out a press release taking credit for the Merlin engine. Perhaps you could point me to one?

  • Jeff Wright

    X-34 was what the original Dream Chaser was going to be back in the Space Dev days as per Popular Science…

  • Patrick Underwood

    Gary, get Eric Berger’s book Liftoff! Besides being an awesome read, it has a whole chapter on how Tom Mueller developed the Merlin.

    Bottom line, NASA most certainly did not “give” SpaceX the Merlin.

  • Patrick Underwood

    Gary, according to the book, the only relationship between Merlin and NASA was the Fastrac turbo pump. NASA had (of course) cancelled Fastrac already. SpaceX had too much hassle with the pump mfr, Barber-Nichols, so they finally ended up developing their own.

    The original pump weighed 150 lbs and developed 3000 hp. The final Merlin pump weighed the same, but produced 12,000 hp.

  • Gary

    Thanks to all for the responses. I knew I couldn’t find anything that indicated NASA “gave” the Merlin to SpaceX, but I also know that the many curious minds on this site likely would have insight that I couldn’t match.

  • Jeff Wright

    Even though Starship SuperHeavy may make it obsolete-I want Falcon retired after it beats Delta’s records….if not R-7’s.

  • pzatchok

    I can not see Falcon being retired any time in the foreseeable future.

    It fits a nice economical launcher class.

    You wouldn’t hire a semi truck to take you across town to dinner so why would anyone want to hire the super heavy launcher just to get a Dragon capsule to the ISS or even the next space stations?
    Can you see a space station built inside the next 30 years that will hold 100 people or need a huge supply ship like the Super Heavy?

Readers: the rules for commenting!

 

No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.

 

However, name-calling and obscenities will not be tolerated. First time offenders who are new to the site will be warned. Second time offenders or first time offenders who have been here awhile will be suspended for a week. After that, I will ban you. Period.

 

Note also that first time commenters as well as any comment with more than one link will be placed in moderation for my approval. Be patient, I will get to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *