Capitalism in space: According to this Starship update, the 11th Starship prototype is scheduled for its static fire dress rehearsal countdown today, with the possibility of its first flight as early as tomorrow.
This paragraph about SpaceX’s overall Starship program however is more significant:
Following SN11’s flight, SpaceX will move on to SN15, 16, and 17, alongside testing with Super Heavy prototypes BN1 and BN2, before shooting for an orbital launch with SN20 and BN3. In typical SpaceX-style, that orbital launch has an astonishing – and unlikely – “by July 1” target. At the very least, this target portrays SpaceX’s Starship drive to push the vehicle into operation.
The reason they are going directly from prototype #11 to #15 is because they scrapped #s 12, 13, and 14 after the flights of #9 and #10. They had learned enough, and those scrapped prototypes would not have taught them anything. Instead, they incorporated the learned changes to #15 and will fly that next.
The July 1st launch date is certainly overly optimistic. It also signals the company’s determination to try to get that first orbital flight off this year. Based on their pace, it would be foolish to dismiss this as a possibility.
It also signals what I think is an internal unstated goal within SpaceX to have Starship beat SLS into orbit. Nor would anyone be wise to consider that impossible. In fact, I consider it quite likely.
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.
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