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.

Watch SpaceX retract one leg from used Block 5 booster

For geeks only! The video below the fold shows the new equipment that SpaceX has developed to retract the open legs of a used Block 5 booster. This video shows them attaching the booster in a secure vertical position, then attaching cables to the base of the first leg which are then used to retract it back into its launch position against the side of the booster. The design is quite clever.

The design also shows how primitive the art of reusable rockets remains. Though SpaceX has clearly succeeded in simplifying and automating this process, it remains slow and complex. In time this will get easier, but right now, this remains state of the art.

Hat tip Jim Mallamace.

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  • Jeff

    Apparently this was only a test, as the leg was lowered and all four legs removed yesterday.

  • Kirk

    Interesting. Makes you wonder if it was planned as just a test all along, or if something didn’t quite work right.

    I had wondered if any manual intervention would be necessary to ensure that the pusher (the small pneumatic strut hinged just below the large leg strut) would require any manual intervention to ensure that it made proper contact with the folding leg. I see that at 8:55 in the video a worker in a cherry picker leans in and adjusts the pusher angle slightly.

    What I couldn’t tell from the retraction video was whether they needed to do anything special to pusher (the smaller rod

  • Kirk

    Oops. Trailing partial sentence above is an editing error.

    In other SpaceX news from the NSF forum, one member is reporting that last week’s ASAP meeting revealed that “some undesirable anomalies were observed” during the first two Block 5 engine tear downs, and that SpaceX is making “a couple short term fixes” prior to the DM1 uncrewed flight test. I believe that many core watchers had expected the DM1 core, # B1051, to have left Hawthorne for McGregor by now. Perhaps those engine modifications have delayed it a bit.

  • Tom Billings

    “Though SpaceX has clearly succeeded in simplifying and automating this process, it remains slow and complex. In time this will get easier, but right now, this remains state of the art.”

    Indeed, this will be entirely disrupted, when the BFR Booster simply lands back in its cradle.

  • Kirk

    Back to the leg pusher, this Teslarati photo of the West Coast booster B1048 (from last Wednesday’s Iridium Next 7 launch) shows the stainless steel cup which the pusher bears against.

  • Edward

    I’m going to go with the “planned as just a test” option. They did not seem set up to secure the leg to the body.

    When they install the legs, it is almost certainly not in the open position but in the closed position, so this is probably new territory for them.

    My guess is that they were there to prove the concept, to test the hoisting equipment, and to verify the methods and procedures. They may also be investigating what it takes to get that pusher to seat properly in the stainless cup during retraction.

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