Successful launch today of Cygnus freighter to ISS

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.

Capitalism in space: Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket today successfully launched it Cygnus unmanned cargo capsule on a supply mission to ISS.

This was Northrop Grumman’s first flight in 2020. The standings in the 2020 launch race:

3 China
2 SpaceX
1 Arianespace (Europe)
1 Rocket Lab
1 Russia
1 Japan
1 Northrop Grumman

The U.S. now leads China 5 to 3 in the national rankings. The U.S. will likely add to that lead with the planned SpaceX launch of another 60 Starlink satellites Monday.


Every July, to celebrate the anniversary of the start of Behind the Black in 2010, I hold a month-long fund-raising campaign to make it possible for me to continue my work here for another year.

This year's fund-raising drive however is more significant in that it is also the 10th anniversary of this website's founding. It is hard to believe, but I have been doing this for a full decade, during which I have written more than 22,000 posts, of which more than 1,000 were essays and almost 2,600 were evening pauses.

This year's fund drive is also more important because of the growing intolerance of free speech and dissent in American culture. Increasingly people who don't like what they read are blatantly acting to blackball sites like mine. I have tried to insulate myself from this tyrannical effort by not depending on Google advertising or cross-posts Facebook or Twitter. Though this prevents them from having a hold on me, it also acts to limit my exposure.

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  • sippin_bourbon

    So, serious question, did NASA buy this flight, as a customer?
    Serious question.
    The way I read things, it is, but look to be sure.

    If so, then then US (as a governement entity) is not leading.
    Free market non-government companies, only fully possible in the United States, are leading.

  • sippin_bourbon: By george I’ve thing you’ve got it!

    This is exactly what is happening, as I have been suggesting for more than twenty years. Slowly NASA is transitioning from building and owning things (and doing a bad job) to becoming a customer looking for the best and most efficiently priced products. Or as you say, “Free market non-government companies, only fully possible in the United States, are leading.”

    You are relatively new here. Spend some time reading old posts. Read Capitalism in Space. You will see this path outlined and proposed years before.

  • I should add that Adam Smith said it all way before I did, back in 1776.

  • David K

    I believe Adam Smith was a fierce critic of the British Empire’s manned space program in the 18th century – they never got anything off the ground!

    On the other hand, they accomplished some brave and heroic things in planetary sciences – they led expeditions to circumnavigate the world and take important astronomical measurements.

  • Scott M.

    Congratulations to Northrop Grumman on their successful launch! Their webcast could definitely use some SpaceX mojo, however. There were some weird audio cross-talk right as the Cygnus reached orbit.

  • Michael Schnieders

    Scott, I’m glad you brought that up. My wife and I watched the live feed and we thought that we were watching the official NASA feed on YouTube, but we got a bit confused when there was a Verizon recording stating that a call could not be completed. Did anyone else see/hear that?

  • Michael Schnieders: Several times during the NASA feed someone comes on to state loudly that the feed from some phone line needs to be muted. It appears no one ever heard that, and didn’t realize they were broadcasting.

    This happens a lot on conference calls. People don’t realize they aren’t muted, have no way of telling, and send background sounds (typing, chatter, etc) into the feed.

    I suspect however that the person who failed to mute their feed line at Northrop Grumman heard about it very clearly soon thereafter. It made them look unprofessional.

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