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.

The Insane Engineering of the X-15

An evening pause: This history, largely forgotten, seems especially significant now that the first wholly commercial space flights are about to happen.

Hat tip Lazarus Long.


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  • Jeff Wright

    We took more risks as a society then. Thing is…if NASA blew up things in the fail-fast mode–and Musk was careful like ULA, but didn’t launch often-wouldn’t libertarian purists still be on Elon’s side? They’d praise how careful he was-instead of blowing up rockets right and left on the taxpayer’s dime…and they would still want the gov’t rocket dead-even if it was SLS that stuck a landing…just a little thought. Of course-back in the day…it was a Democrat who was a big anti-spending zealot…and in his memory…all space toilets should be called ‘proxmires.’

  • t-dub

    That, for me, was so much fun to watch. Informative, entertaining, well done. Its amazing to think about all the different bits of technology that had to come together to make this project possible. Including how those technologies interacted with one another. The human mind, and math, is capable of so much good. I salute these pioneers for what they accomplished.

  • Jeff Wright

    For now, there is UCF’s HyperREACT of Kareem Ahmed who thinks there could be a hypersonic combustion break through-while at…there was recent news of a thermal cloak. I wanted a Buran type Shuttle II so that the SSMEs are on the External Tank-like SLS-but large winged airframes would be on the side.

    You need large airframes to do testing right-thus my support for big stage-and-a-half SLS…hoping it can evolve back to side mount.

    But both old and new space are thinking capsules…ugh.

    Now I hear Bill Gates has a divorce. Maybe someone can talk him into being a space investor.

    The cause of Winged Spaceflight deserves better than Branson.

  • Noah Peal

    “Now I hear Bill Gates has a divorce. Maybe someone can talk him into being a space investor.” –Jeff Wright

    Anybody else concerned that the wealthiest Americans are developing “off planet” plans? Do they know something the rest of us don’t?

  • I have the movie X-15 (1961 Richard Donner). Mediocre movie, but there are some ‘names’, and lot’s of USAF footage.

  • John

    That was really good.

    We lost one of three killing pilot Michael Adams.

    I think I read somewhere that before the the space race, the thinking at the time was we would fly into space by extending the size and capabilities of vehicles like the X-15.

  • Jeff Wright

    You can blame Tom Wolfe for that. TEST GODS writes about said fighter jock culture. But it held space back. Medaris was talking Starship sized troop rockets back in the ABMA days….before the Air Farce had it killed. Medaris would have loved Musk. I wish they could have met.

    And yet…I do hope for a Buran type Orion III spaceship one day. The pull is strong. One day…

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