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.

Update on Falcon 9 explosion

NASA and SpaceX have released detailed statements about Thursday’s Falcon 9 launchpad explosion, summarizing what is known at the moment as well as the state of the investigation.

Not surprisingly, the failure will cause delays in SpaceX’s upcoming plans as well as force the company to shift launches to a different launchpad that will not be ready until November.


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  • Cotour

    I am hearing comments about the explosion like “I saw the video and it appears that something, possibly a drone, hit the rocket before it exploded”.

    Dick previously commented that he thought that anything that might have been seen may well have been a closer to the camera substantial Florida bred flying bug rather than a projectile or drone, which seems the more reasonable explanation about any such observation.

    I am sure its too early for any concrete reason to be identified.

  • wayne

    -totally on-board with your thought(s)!

    I’m seeing way too many armchair-experts on the ‘net “discover” stuff from the video. (and I can’t stand it when people re-edit the reality of digital recording, and re-sync the sound up, as-if the camera & microphone weren’t miles away.)

    It’s a good video to plaster all over the web as click-bait, but the camera was a long way away, and although if might actually be shot at 60 fps, the resolution just isn’t there. Even if it was high-resolution to start, it’s been compressed to death into .mp4 format video, transmitted over the ‘net, and delivered to everyone’s exceedingly low-resolution computer-monitors.
    They should have (at least some) technical-camera views of important stuff, but we’ll just have to wait until the post mortem is done to actually know anything of value.

    (I’d also echo what Dick said about the indigenous insects in Florida.)

  • PeterF

    Using the time tested method to gauge the distance of lightning by counting “one,one thousand, two,one thousand” between the event and the arrival of the sound while watching the original video I guessed the camera was a little less than two miles from the pad.

  • Gene Shipp

    My experience with rockets is limited to the kind sold by Estes.

    But this guy has a take on it you might find interesting.

    I proudly introduce: “The Grunt of Monte Cristo” and his opinion on the

    posted 9-2-16

    UPDATE: The possibility of sabotage didn’t occur to me for over a day, mostly because my opinion of SPACE X and its founder and their high level of arrogance (which is toxic in the launch business) made me think this was a screw-up related to their use of a super-dense/cold LOX oxidizer. But after being asked about it a few times, I’m ashamed to admit this might be an obvious explosive device.

    MORE including a video; clickey de linkey.

  • wodun

    Speculation is fun, reading it is still pretty fun, but really no one has access to the information necessary for good speculation on this one. Some people might be skilled enough to analyze a video but they still wont have much to go on if they aren’t working for SpaceX.

    It sucks but we just have to wait and see what the investigation says.

  • wayne

    Cotour– good job spotting that article. (amazing!) that might qualify for elevation to the front page!

    wodun– ditto on that thought.

    PeterF– thanks. I always forget the multiplier on that. (flash vs. sound arrival)

    Gene Shipp–
    –I’m no chemist, but the Grunt of Monte Cristo, has a few factoids wrong as it relates to LOX burning, exploding, or detonating.
    –Rockets are tricky-business, it’s amazing when they fail, but the more amazing factoid is “they don’t fail more often,” which is a credit to rocket-science.
    –totally tangential–was checking on the ‘net for Estes rockets a few weeks ago. Yow, the price has escalated greatly since I last played with them, and it now costs like $28 + postage, for shipping “hazardous” rocket-engines.

  • Brendan

    “my opinion of SPACE X and its founder and their high level of arrogance (which is toxic in the launch business)”

    Interesting you say this, since I am good friends with people involved with ULA. SpaceX makes them nervous (which is obvious from how they have been responding in their business actions). That’s because SpaceX doesn’t have a trillion layers of bureaucracy and they don’t design to six-sigma.

    I suppose you can call that arrogance. We used to call it engineering.

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