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.
 

SpaceX ‘s decision to slash prices/provide reliable launch schedule upends smallsat industry

Capitalism in space: Apparently SpaceX’s decision in August to further slash its launch prices for smallsats while also establishing a regular launch schedule is causing major shifts in that industry.

From the first link::

The revamped smallsat rideshare program, the company announced late Aug. 28, will provide launch opportunities at least once per month starting in March 2020, at a cost of $1 million for a 200-kilogram smallsat.

From the second link:

With the new SpaceX price list, the cost of reaching low Earth orbit falls so dramatically “you should select the cheapest launcher even if it does not go exactly where you need it and then use propulsion to go where you need to be,” Henri said. “From a total system cost standpoint, that will make the most sense.”

This situation is comparable to the shifts that occurred in the ship business when its technology changed from sails to engines. Sailing ships generally did not sail on a schedule. Instead, they sat at port until they filled their cargo holds, then waited for favorable weather before sailing. Customers could only wait.

Once ships were powered this all changed. Ship companies established firm schedules so customers knew exactly when their cargo would ship. This also led to a reduction in the price of shipping.

SpaceX’s ability to reuse its first stage often and quickly is now allowing them to treat the Falcon 9 rocket more like a powered ship rather than a sailing ship. Rather than only launching when they’ve filled their cargo capacity, they can afford to launch on a regular and reliable schedule, allowing customers to jump on board at their own convenience.

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3 comments

  • Joe

    The launch costs SpaceX is quoting sound great but the expense will shift to integration. It doesn’t help a smallsat builder if the cost of the flight is $100/Kg but the testing and integration costs tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. Cheap flights are great and I appreciate them, but what are the other costs that keep going up? It is tempting to disrupt the satellite testing industry the same way SpaceX has disrupted the launch market.

    Regulation would be another great place to cut back on as well.

  • Phill O

    With all the satellites going up, is there any kind of program for an amateur to track these things?

  • Jay

    Phill O,
    Yes, there are many programs to track, like SatPC32, and there are websites that can give you the data, like Heavens Above – https://heavens-above.com/. I use that website to track Ham Radio Satellites. Have fun tracking!

    When I was 12, I use to call up the “Mir Hotline” that the Nation Space Society had to get the passes of Mir and Saylut-7 over my house. They discontinued the hotline, but I use to subscribe to a monthly service that sent the Keplerian elements on a disk for my C-64 computer.

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