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 successfully launches commercial satellite

Capitalism in space: Using a first stage for the third time, SpaceX today successfully launched a commercial communications satellite while recovering that first stage.

Fun fact: This first stage recovery today was the 47th time that SpaceX has successfully completed a vertical landing.

The leaders in the 2019 launch race:

30 China
20 Russia
13 SpaceX
7 Europe (Arianespace)

China now leads the U.S. in the national rankings 30 to 26.

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  • China has 30 launches, with how many recovered stages?

  • pzatchok

    They got them all back.

    Just not in any recognizable condition.

  • Willi

    The SpaceX announcer made a couple of slips. He said “failings” then caught himself and said “fairings”. Then, I believe he said “encrapsulate”…

  • Richard M

    Well, at least we’re a lock now for second place, at any rate.

    In 2020, Starship plans quite a lot of launches for Starlink. It will be interesting to see how many they can squeeze into existing launch range capabilities at the Cape and Vandenburg – and whether it will end up being enough to re-take first place from the Chinese.

  • Kyle

    What’s the cost of a Chinese launch vs SpaceX?

  • Diane Wilson

    Kyle, China can subsidize launches, so the “cost” to customers is whatever China wants it to be. I don’t know if China also demands “technology transfer” for such launches, meaning that you have to give them your trade secrets. That would make launches very expensive.

    Unrelated question, what percentage of Falcon 9 launches to date have been on “flight-proven hardware”?

  • Lee S

    I have to say I am supprised ( and slightly disappointed, but that’s only because of the spectacle of launch and landing!) By the lack of falcon heavy launches…. Does anyone know if they have published a manifesto list?
    Given the lack of heavy lift availability, and the price, I would have thought they would have much more business..

  • geoffc

    Check out: that lists it all.

    28 reflights out of 77. Considering they did not first recover a booster until they were about 24 someodd flights in, that is more like 28 out of 51. And some of those 28 were first flights. So getting closer and closer!

    You can go figure it all out from:

    Which lists all the cores and all the missions.

    Be an interesting stat if you can figure it out.

  • Diane Wilson

    Lee, it’s not too surprising that we haven’t seen many heavy launches. Those are the most expensive satellites, and there’s a long lead time in their development. And to some extent, the satellites are designed to fly on particular rockets, based on lifting capability, physical size constraints of the payload bay, launcher availability, lead time, etc. I’ve read that Delta IV Heavy requires a three year lead time, once the commitment is made. Given the years of promises for Falcon Heavy, most people waited until it flew before even considering it. There will be more, but at this point, the idea of low-cost heavy lift hasn’t really made it through the planning cycle for most projects.

    Also, I don’t think that SpaceX really talks much about long term launch manifests, unless there has been some public announcement about the satellites themselves.

    Geoffc, thanks for the links!

  • Patrick G McCourt

    Just wondering if there was any word from SpaceX about payload shroud recovery? It was mentioned in the lead-up to launch. I imagine the silence on the subject indicates they could not pull it off.

  • Edward

    Patrick G McCourt,

    A tweet confirms your suspicion, the two ships both missed the catch:
    Ms. Tree and Ms. Chief narrowly missed catching the fairing halves—team is working to recover them for potential use on a future flight

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