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 pinpoints likely cause of Falcon 9 failure

The investigation into the failure of the Falcon 9 launch June 28 now thinks the cause was a failed strut in the upper stage.

The struts are 2 feet long and about an inch thick at its thickest. SpaceX does not make the struts, a supplier does. From now on, each one will be individually checked, Musk said, and the design and material may be altered for added strength. The struts are designed to handle 10,000 pounds of force at liftoff; at the time of the accident, they would have been seeing only 2,000 pounds of force. A failure at such a low threshold is “pretty crazy,” Musk said. The strut most likely failed at its attachment point, he added.

Another change: Beginning with its next launch, each Dragon cargo carrier will be equipped with software for deploying its parachutes. The Dragon destroyed last month, along with an estimated $110 million worth of NASA equipment and supplies, would have survived if the parachutes normally used for descent at mission’s end could have been activated, Musk said.

The investigation is still not finalized, but is likely close to completion.


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  • mpthompson

    Very happy to hear that a definitive cause has likely been found – at least to the satisfaction of SpaceX. It will be interesting to see if NASA and the Air Force will concur. I’ll be relieved when launches resume.

  • t-dub

    “The Dragon destroyed last month, along with an estimated $110 million worth of NASA equipment and supplies, would have survived if the parachutes normally used for descent at mission’s end could have been activated, Musk said.”

    I knew it!!! Now I’m positive that what I saw on the slo motion video was the Dragon capsule moving away from the rocket still intact. The still picture I grabbed shows it clearly.

  • Edward

    Looks like you called it. :-)

    It is interesting to note that a new paradigm is possible. It used to be that a payload was lost when a launch rocket failed; if the rocket got a couple of inches off the pad, the payload wasn’t coming back in one piece (except, of course, those designed for reentry and recovery). Although the docking port would have been lost anyway, as it was external to the Dragon capsule, much of the payload inside the Dragon could have survived to go another day.

    However, I doubt that large satellites will be launched in safe Dragon cocoons anytime soon. We probably should work on reliability rather than recovery after an accident.

  • David M. Cook

    Is anyone else disturbed by the fact that a small amount of equipment cost the US taxpayers $110 Million FREAKING Dollars?

    This kind of “featherbedding” will only stop when there is competition for these flights.

    Go Mr. Musk!!!

  • Edward

    The International Docking Adapter probably cost a pretty penny.

    In addition, there were several experiments and radiation-hardened electronics that were lost. Very little that goes to the ISS is off the shelf stuff that you can get at Ace Hardware or WalMart.

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