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’s first manned Dragon launch scrubbed due to weather

UPDATE: They were forced to scrub at T-16:54 because of weather. They will try again in three days on May 30th, at 3:22 pm (Eastern). I will post the live stream here on Behind the Black late Friday night.

Original post:
I have embedded below SpaceX’s live stream of the first manned Dragon mission, set to launch at 4:33 pm (Eastern). The stream begins at about 12:15 pm (Eastern). Feel free to watch as the day unfolds. Sadly, it is being managed by NASA, not SpaceX, and thus is filled with a lot of the agency’s fake hype.

I have also set it to remain at the top of the page until after the launch, or if it is scrubbed.

On a side note, NASA is now aiming for an August 30 launch of SpaceX’s next manned Dragon mission, the first official operational flight.

Below the fold I am also posting images captured, with some commentary.

The astronauts getting buckled in

The image above was grabbed while the astronauts were being buckled into their seats. While the camera lens is very wide angle which makes things seem larger, that the two assistants can be inside entirely, with no problems, even standing at times, illustrates how roomy the capsule is. It is built to carry four astronauts, so there is plenty of spare space with only two astronauts on board.

Falcon 9, Dragon, with crew on board, at just under T-2 hours

This image shows the Falcon 9 with Dragon against a cloudy sky, just after they had completed sealing the hatch and confirming communications with the crew on board. The weather situation continues to improve, but it remains the biggest issue that might scrub the launch.

Crew access arm, the jetway, retracting

Crew access arm, the jetway, retracting

They have begun fueling the rocket, have armed the abort system, and retracted the crew access arm, SpaceX’s cool jetway for giving astronauts access to Dragon on top of the Falcon 9, as shown in the above two pictures.

The weather also continues to improve, though it remains the biggest obstacle to launch, which is now less than 40 minutes away.


I must unfortunately ask you for your financial support because I do not depend on ads and rely entirely on the generosity of readers to keep Behind the Black running. You can either make a one time donation for whatever amount you wish, or you sign up for a monthly subscription ranging from $2 to $15 through Paypal or $3 to $50 through Patreon.

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.

Your support is even more essential to me because I not only keep this site free from advertisements, I do not use the corrupt social media companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook to promote my work. I depend wholly on the direct support of my readers.

You can provide that support to 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

Or you can donate by using Zelle through your bank. You will need to give my name and email address (found at the bottom of the "About" page). The best part of this electronic option is that no fees will be deducted! What you donate will be what I receive.


  • sippin_bourbon

    Hoping that the weather holds.

    It was 50/50 for favorable weather earlier.
    Down to 40% now.
    Storm scheduled to hit almost the same time.

  • Jay

    I remember when I went to watch STS-120 at KSC, I was told that it rains everyday at 2:45pm for 15 minutes, and it rained just like clockwork. I hope the weather cooperates as well.

    Godspeed Dragon!


  • Col Beausabre

    Right on time at 1430 local, Weather Channel reports thunderstorms in the vicinity of the Cape. Countdown and launch prep are continuing, Weather Channel is streaming the feed from SpaceX amongst their normal reporting, but is giving special attention to conditions at the Cape

  • Wodun

    I’m enjoying the prelaunch show. Less hype than just being informative. It’s not any different than the early Spacex launches.

  • sippin_bourbon

    Many are glued to the TV for this event.
    This is huge. The social media numbers reflect this.

    At the same time, civil unrest because of the lock down.
    A Pandemic.
    Unrest because of racial tension, this time in Minnesota.
    A looming national election.

    Shades of ’68.

    “History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” (-Mark Twain?)

  • James Stephens

    Even the gangway looks awesome and the clean lines of the capsule. Wow! I’ve always been a function before form kind of guy but even I’m impressed. Looks like private space is going to do it and with style! Keeping my fingers crossed.

  • wodun

    NASA has two streams going on YouTube. One has 1.7m watching and the other has 864k.

  • Col Beausabre

    1615 local – Latest update from Weather Channel is storms are building around Orlando and headed towards Cape, but launch should be before they get close enough to affect it. And, man, who came up with those black hoods with silver buttons for the ground crew !

  • sippin_bourbon

    Scrubbed for weather

  • Col Beausabre


  • Bob L.

    Noticed a lot of hand movement by the astronauts. Do their computers interpret hand motions?

  • Jay

    Col Beausabre,
    Yes, I too noticed the ground crew’s outfits. Unfortunately it reminded me of a scene from the movie “Pulp Fiction”.

  • Bob L: No, the hand motions are I think mostly either because they have nothing else to do, or they are signaling to the camera that they have heard what’s going on.

  • mpthompson

    I like seeing Doug Hurley sitting in the capsule with his reading spectacles on. Gives hope to us aging, middle-agers with similar site problems.

  • mpthompson

    Oops, I meant “sight” problems, but I suppose some of us may have “site” problems as well. :-)

  • Diane Wilson

    Regarding “form over function” arguments, remember the Apollo control panel with hundreds of switches? Think about the Apollo 12 launch and lightning strike. There was ONE person in mission control that remembered that there was a secondary electrical system and knew the switch setting, and there was ONE astronaut on board who remembered where the switch was from having set it ONCE in training.

    Granted, that setting might not be on a touch screen display, either, but at least the hardware buttons in Crew Dragon are very few (a good place for emergency switches, which is what SpaceX designed it for), and it’s also a good opportunity for voice control. Ambient noise suppression would make voice control feasible, perhaps.

    Back to form over function, the correct form is the one that gets the job done.

  • sippin_bourbon


    I would think voice control through the headset would work better, as opposed to an open mic on the panel.
    With the visors closed ambient noise would be greatly reduced.

    I have to assume those touch panels are robust and that there are multiple data and power feeds to keep them alive (primary, alternate, contingency and emergency feeds), or some such scheme.

    Is there anything that has a diagram of what the buttons on the arm rests are? Are they just emergency switches, or can they actuate other controls?
    I was surprised to not see control sticks.

  • Diane Wilson


    I haven’t seen any photos or diagrams of the interior or screens, so I have no idea what the control arrangements are. I know there’s a row of physical buttons below the screens, and these are things that have to be manual, but I don’t know much beyond that.

    It would be interesting to see what the manual docking procedure is, since that is the backup to an automated docking failure. Again, no clue about controls.

  • All: It is my understanding that SpaceX originally wanted all controls to be on the touch screen. I strongly suspect the astronauts told them this was not a good idea, as accurately touching a screen during the vibration of launch was problematic. Thus I suspect they added the physical buttons below the screen for the most important actions the astronauts might have to make.

  • James Stephens

    I agree the correct form is that which facilitates function. While the lack of tactile controls to me is almost shocking it is the twenty first century. I must assume SpaceX has conducted failure and recovery analyses done ergonomic studies as well as rigorous simulations with a crew on a shake stand. I leave it to them to decide what’s best. I’m just used to seeing the interiors of spacecraft designed in the 1960s and 70s and the difference is striking.

  • James Stephens

    Though the resolution of the stream wasn’t great I could see what looked like two rows of buttons on at least the right hand rest. Now that my curiosity has been peaked I’ll try to find better interior shots and any design diagrams.

  • Kyle

    On their website spacex has an ISS docking simulator anyone can use. It looks identical to the screen shots from today. Manual docking requires alot of patience.

  • sippin_bourbon

    I found this picture on

    Seems to give a good view of the display and the switches.

  • Tom McGuinness

    Two questions for wise people – Watching the interior of the cabin while count-down and holds occurred, two questions popped in my mind; both showing that I am a child of Apollo:

    1. Is the atmosphere in Crew Dragon pure oxygen for launch and flight?

    2. Looking at the hatch at the astronauts feet, it seems poorly situated in the event the crew needs to get themselves out of the capsule. Did NASA make them demonstrate a capability to self-egress?

    Both questions obviously motivated from being a teenager during Apollo – 1.

    One snark: I’m sorry, but the clean room crew garb made me think of the Knights who say Nee.

  • pzatchok

    I do not think its a 100% O2 atmosphere. They shouldn’t need it at all.

    I do not believe they have a self egress option. I guess in a real emergency they just hit the button and get the dragon out. The thing does have more than enough power and range to get them safely away from anything.

    And you have to think about the emergencies they might have and when.
    All the way to the edge of space they can hit the button and use the escape option of the dragon capsule.
    After making orbit they can abort and return at any time.
    If they take a hole during orbit what could be done other than return.
    After they start the second stage burn to boost up to the ISS they are in a dangerous stage. They might not be able to return fast enough and might be to far away from the station to hope it could save them.

  • pzatchok

    Manual flight is by X Box controller.

    Every pilot brings their own personal one to plug in.

  • sippin_bourbon

    Everyday astronaut got a few good shots of the interior as well.

  • Jay

    It is not a 100% oxygen atmosphere. Unfortunately we learned that the hard way with the deaths in Apollo 1. I am sure the mixture is the same as the ISS at 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen (these numbers are from the NASA website).

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 *