Readers!
 

The final week of my annual February birthday month fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black has begun. I continue to be overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, including numerous donations and a surge of new subscribers willing to commit to donating anywhere from $2 to $25 per month. Wow! The numbers are too many to send out individual thank you’s, so please forgive me for thanking you all with this one announcement.

 

The campaign however must go on, especially because I have added more regular features to my daily workload. In addition to my daily never-ending reporting on space exploration and science, my regular launch reports, my monthly sunspot updates, the regular cool images, and the evening pauses I post each evening, I have now added a daily weekday post I have entitled "Today's blacklisted American." Its goal is not to discuss policy or politics, but to note the endless examples occurring across the United States where some jack-booted thug or thugs think it is proper and acceptable to censor, blackball, cancel, and destroy an innocent American, merely because that American has expressed or holds an opinion or is of a race or religion that is no longer considered acceptable to the dominant leftist and bigoted culture. I want to make clear to every American that a large number of your fellow citizens no longer believe in the enlightened concept of freedom of speech or the idea of treating each person by the quality of their character.

 

Instead, they wish to shut you up, and oppress you if you happen to disagree with them or have the wrong skin color. This evil must be exposed.

 

To continue to do this into the foreseeable future however I need your support. If you are one of those millions who read Behind the Black each month, please consider donating or subscribing. Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

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If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
 
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Biden administration endorses Artemis program

During a press conference yesterday Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki stated that the Biden administration plans to continue the Artemis manned lunar program that was initiated by the Trump administration.

“Through the Artemis program, the United States government will work with industry and international partners to send astronauts to the surface of the moon — another man and a woman to the moon,” Psaki told reporters in a White House press briefing Thursday. “Certainly, we support this effort and endeavor,” she added.

The Biden administration was under pressure to endorse Artemis, coming from its own party. Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress want the pork it represents to them. This statement now aligns Biden with Congress. The American effort to return to the Moon, established by Trump, is now practically engraved in stone.

What the statement that Psaki read did not detail is whether that support will include the SLS rocket or the Orion capsule. Nor did her statement indicate any time schedule for a landing, which adds weight to the supposition that they are going to abandon the Trump’s effort to push for a 2024 manned landing on the Moon.

Moreover, the letter sent to the White House on February 3rd by eleven Democrats endorsing Artemis (available here [pdf]), also said nothing about SLS or Orion. Instead, it was more intent on encouraging the White House to award contracts to the private sector to build the manned lunar lander. NASA had announced on February 1st that it was delaying its decision on who should build it, and those Democrats did not want that delay to result in the contracts getting killed.

Both statements tell us is that SLS itself is presently on very thin ice. Congress wants Artemis, but Artemis is no longer synonymous with SLS. For the past two years the Trump administration had been awarding contracts to numerous private companies to design and build many components of Artemis, rather than have NASA do the designing and building (as it had with SLS). Those contracts have created a cohort of new vested interests that rely on Artemis, all of which I am sure are screaming at their representatives in Congress to keep their work funded.

Furthermore, SpaceX’s development of Starship is clearly showing everyone that an alternative to SLS does exist, and could be operational for much less and much sooner.

To my mind, all this evidence suggests that the Washington political world is getting itself ready for the possibility of abandoning SLS. They don’t want to, but if alternatives to its pork are available that are also more productive, they are steeling themselves for making the difficult political decision of switching.

This evidence also suggests that the Biden administration will continue the policies I outlined in my 2017 policy paper Capitalism in Space (available as a free download here [pdf]) and adopted by the Trump administration. I had recommended that all design and construction should be taken from NASA and given to many different private companies, with that private sector also owning what they build while competing for those government dollars. NASA would outline the project’s goals and concept, and then act merely as a customer which would find others to execute those goals and concepts, as quickly and as cheaply as possible.

If the Biden administration is embracing these recommendations, this is very good news. While the motives of these corrupt politicians might be bad, the result could be very good for the U.S. Allowing the private sector to do the job means it might actually get done, rapidly and for much less. It will also help fuel the growth of a very robust American space industry, which once established will soon no longer depend solely on the government for its business. The lower cost required by the competition to get NASA business will encourage others to buy the products, and soon thereafter the government will become irrelevant to this industry’s success.

This is the model used in the early 20th century to jump start the airline industry. It worked. It now looks like NASA and the govenment will do it in space.

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.
 

10 comments

  • Marcus

    Sounds like good news overall.

    Random thoughts:

    1. I thought SLS was a good idea — take the existing shuttle components and put them together in a simpler and safer configuration to save money and lives and start flying again right away. Terrible execution. Still can’t figure out why they started trying to optimize the existing shuttle engines to eek out a few extra percent performance when they were going to start throwing them away. Not sure where everything went wrong, but ready for the program to be over

    2. I wouldn’t ditch SLS until Starship proves itself or until another alternative has been developed. Nothing as exciting as Starship right now, but seems very unpredictable.

    3. Private company lander contracts are awesome!

    4. Personally think _most_ of congress would be really happy to ditch SLS as soon as an alternative becomes available.

    5. Would really like more competition for Spacex. Hope Rocket lab puts out a Falcon 9 alternative after they figure out reuse of Electron. While happy to have Spacex lead the pack for heavy lift — we need competition there too. SLS is the only competition in town right now (which to too bad), but that means I don’t want it to go away yet.

    Really off topic:

    1. Anyone know of a website with best ideas on how to utilize cheap access to space if Starship works?
    2. I really hope James Webb flies this fall. I don’t like reading that it is “expected to launch as soon as this fall” (random nytimes article)

  • milt

    For those of a more conspiratorial bent, I think that you might find this interesting:

    https://groundzeromedia.org/2-4-21-space-farce/

    Mr. Lewis seems to have reached some rather different conclusions about the Biden Administration’s plans for a manned space program. That is, to not effectively have one. And, given Mr. Biden’s “special” relationship with China, how much of a stretch is it to think that he might do whatever he could to promote their space program while making sure that ours never (literally) gets off the ground?

    But, as Robert suggests, perhaps there is now enough of a broad constituency for a manned space program that even Congress (and Sleepy Joe) knows better than to thwart such a lobby. Let’s hope so!

    Had this not been the case, then all hope that the SLS boondoggle might finally be euthanized would be out the window, as such a nonperforming phantom program is exactly what is wanted by the progressives. There is no desire for it ever to “work” — God forbid! — but it maintains the illusion that something big and important is being done, and they can brag about how “diverse, inclusive, and equitable” it is.

    On some days, it looks like politics IS your friend.

    PS — Hidden away in all of this is the question of whether or not the Biden Administration actually has a “policy” with respect to the exploration and utilization of the space frontier. As Robert suggests, his own writings along these lines might be a good place for them to look for one. “NASA would outline the project’s goals and concept, and then act merely as a customer which would find others to execute those goals and concepts, as quickly and as cheaply as possible.”

    If NASA / the Biden Administration could just come up with some worthwhile “goals and concepts,” then the private sector will be more than happy to take us there.

  • Alex

    I believe Mr. Musk thinks the U.S. government is a woeful dinosaur dependent on consensus thinking and lacking innovation. I also think he feels the same way about the American population in general as we become more and more dependent on government for everything. Inertia is the word to describe America today. Musk is right and if he could he would gladly move off planet earth and start his own world.

  • Edward

    Alex wrote: “I believe Mr. Musk thinks the U.S. government is a woeful dinosaur dependent on consensus thinking and lacking innovation. I also think he feels the same way about the American population in general as we become more and more dependent on government for everything.

    Maybe, but Musk came to the United States, it is said, because he believed that this is where people can achieve great things. With these Americans, he created Pay Pal, grew Tesla into a powerhouse auto company, and created SpaceX and some amazing feats with rocketry. It would be a shame if he didn’t recognize that his fellow Americans work hard in order to achieve great things.

  • john hare

    “””Maybe, but Musk came to the United States, it is said, because he believed that this is where people can achieve great things. With these Americans, he created Pay Pal, grew Tesla into a powerhouse auto company, and created SpaceX and some amazing feats with rocketry. It would be a shame if he didn’t recognize that his fellow Americans work hard in order to achieve great things.””””

    One quibble with your last sentence. Many Americans do work hard and take risks to achieve great things. Unfortunately, it seems like an increasing number are along for the ride. And many are in it for what’s in it for them regardless of the damage to the rest of us. It is a race to stay ahead of the parasites which so far is being won, the problem being that it seems they are gaining on us.

    This is not to start another round of finger pointing and bashing. It is to say that the trajectory as I see it cannot continue indefinitely.

  • Edward

    John hare,
    You wrote: “This is not to start another round of finger pointing and bashing. It is to say that the trajectory as I see it cannot continue indefinitely.

    The sentence that you have a quibble with is based upon your own thought.

    Americans and illegal aliens along for the ride are signs of the country becoming more socialist. This is the trajectory that we are on. As noted throughout the world, socialism does not work. It creates incentives for working less or for not working at all. What we Americans created as a safety net has turned into a hammock. Rather than catching fallen workers so that they can get back to work, people are climbing in without working or falling. Meanwhile, the rest of us have to work harder in order to take care of those who are relaxing on our dollars. The rest of us hard workers are proud that our country has achieved more than its fair share of great things, but we are not proud to carry the lazy ones, those who prefer socialism, which allows and promotes their lazy lifestyles.

    In the 19th century, millions of people came to America with the intention of working hard to create farms out of empty fields. In the late 20th century, Elon Musk came here with the intention of achieving great things. In this century, people come here illegally with the intention of being cared for by a benevolent government agency, and more and more Americans are born with that same intention. The hammock is getting crowded.

    If we don’t point to and bash the systems and methods that are harmful and point to and praise the systems and methods that make us prosperous then how are we to discuss which system we should prefer and advocate?

    Four centuries ago, what would become the United States was a socialist backwoods village that couldn’t feed itself, where half its population perished. It turned into a free market capitalist country that in one year had so much prosperity that it invited its Indian neighbors to a three-day feast, a Thanksgiving feast, thanking God for the better system. Three centuries later, that village had grown into a country so prosperous that it saved the world from tyranny and fascism. Twice. A century later, now that we are embracing that same fascism, we are barely able to cope with a minor flu outbreak, even with a rapid development of a vaccine — thanks again to free market capitalism, free from overbearing government restrictions and controls, and free to achieve such a great thing.

    So let’s bash the system that is failing us so horribly and promote the system that made us prosperous, healthy and long-lived, and a magnet for those yearning to live free and yearning to accomplish great things. Indeed, we should encourage the rest of the world to change to the system of prosperity, rather than emulate that system with what looks similar but fails to promote prosperity. Wouldn’t it be nice if the whole world were a place where great things can be accomplished rather than come to America to do it?

  • john hare

    One of the problems being that calling someone a liar or an idiot doesn’t make them honest or smart. As long as one is focused on what the opposition is doing, and opposing everything they do, one is letting them dictate the cadence. It is about time to quit focusing on what you think the opposition should be doing, and start focusing on positive things to accomplish from our side. Our side as in individuals each doing what we think is right, and not focusing on negative reactions to what others are doing.

  • Edward

    John hare,
    You wrote: “It is about time to quit focusing on what you think the opposition should be doing, and start focusing on positive things to accomplish from our side.

    I’ve said my focus. What do you think the positive things are for our side to accomplish?

  • john hare

    Read the sentence you quoted Edward. Individualism is not waiting for others to do it for you.

  • Edward

    John hare,
    I don’t know what I wrote to make you think that I am not active in my freedom as a free market capitalist but am waiting for you do be one for me. Either way, that does not prevent me from advocating for freedom, liberty, and free market capitalism.

    But what about my question to you? Or are you waiting for me to do it for you?

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