Conscious Choice cover

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and 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.

Amazon picks rocket startup ABL to launch 1st two prototype Kuiper satellites

Capitalism in space: Amazon has chosen the smallsat startup rocket company ABL to launch its first two prototype Kuiper satellites, with that launch targeted for ’22.

KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2 will reach orbit via the RS1, a new rocket developed by California-based ABL Space Systems. Amazon also announced today that it has signed a multi-launch deal with ABL to provide these early Project Kuiper launches.

The 88-foot-tall (27 meters) RS1 is capable of launching 2,975 pounds (1,350 kilograms) of payload to LEO, according to its ABL specifications page. ABL is charging $12 million for each launch of the two-stage rocket. The RS1 has not flown yet, but ABL has said that it aims to conduct a debut launch from Alaska’s Pacific Spaceport Complex before the end of 2021.

Earlier this year, Amazon announced that it had signed a deal with United Launch Alliance (ULA), whose Atlas V rocket will loft operational Project Kuiper craft on nine different launches.

Does anyone notice what rocket company has not won these contracts, even though its owner is also Amazon’s founder and biggest shareholder? That’s right, as far as I can tell, Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket has apparently not won any contracts to launch Amazon’s Kuiper satellites. Notice also that the deal with ULA uses its Atlas-5 rocket, not its new Vulcan rocket, even though ULA wants Vulcan to replace the Atlas-5 beginning in ’22.

Since both New Glenn and Vulcan depend on Blue Origin’s troubled BE-4 rocket engine, these contracts strongly suggest that the engine’s technical problems have not yet been solved, and that neither rocket will be flying in ’22 as both companies have promised.


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  • mpthompson

    …and that neither rocket will be flying in ’22 as both companies have promised.

    It is pretty well known that New Glenn won’t be flying in ’22, but that would be a very serious delay for ULA. Space Force won’t wait forever and there are plenty of newcomers chomping at the bit to be given a chance to supplant the Vulcan. At what point does ULA start looking for a viable Plan-B to the BE-4.

  • Ray Van Dune

    “Plan B” may not be the best way to characterize what ULA needs right now….

  • Scott M.

    Man, I feel so bad right now for Tony Bruno. He bet his whole company on the BE-4, and he must be sweating bullets.

  • mpthompson

    USSF-67 is the third U.S. national security launch to be added to the Falcon Heavy’s crowded 2022 manifest

    SpaceX just picked up another Falcon Heavy launch for 2022. That’s a total of 4 Falcon Heavy launches scheduled for next year — three for Space Force and one commercial/NASA. The way things are going, by 2023 both Boeing with Starliner and ULA with Vulcan will have dug themself so deeply into holes, they may never be able to keep up.

  • Col Beausabre

    “Scott M.
    November 2, 2021 at 7:29 am
    Man, I feel so bad right now for Tony Bruno. He bet his whole company on the BE-4, and he must be sweating bullets.”

    That’s capitalism, most companies go bust. But the genius of capitalism is that it allows resources to be deployed to companies with better ideas

  • Scott M.

    Col Beausabre, I agree whole-heartedly with your assessment of how capitalism should work. But I still feel for Bruno because, as the CEO, he had a choice and at the moment appears to have picked the wrong one. I hope to be proven wrong.

  • Ray Van Dune

    Scott M., I am curious, what choices do you think Tony Bruno had, besides BE-4?
    1. I ruled out teaming with SpaceX, because his competition would have him by the throat. But then again, BO is a competitor but perhaps not one he took seriously? Then why use their engine?
    2. Another possibility is “build your own”, but perhaps Tony didn’t see ULA as a maker of engines?
    3. Another foreign engine could have run into the same problems as the RD-180.

    What other options were there – just asking.

  • Edward

    Ray Van Dune asked: “I am curious, what choices do you think Tony Bruno had, besides BE-4?

    ULA chose Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine over Aerojet Rocketdyne’s AR-1 engine. These two engines were contending to be the Vulcan booster stage engines:

    Robert’s analysis:

    In other words, Blue Origin’s willingness to invest its own capital in engine development was a major factor. Aerojet Rocketdyne was using the old model of big space, whereby all development money came from the government. It had been unwilling to commit any of its own funds to engine development. This reluctance implied it wasn’t really committed to the project. If Air Force funding disappeared, they’d back out, leaving ULA in the lurch.

  • Ray Van Dune

    Edward, thanks for answering my question. I immediately asked myself if ULA’s choice of BO didn’t put them at just as much risk as the AR-1, but I will read Bob’s article first!

  • Ray Van Dune: Edward once again demonstrated that you have right in front of you a space resource that will almost always answer such questions. All you need to do is use the search box on Behind the Black. If it happened in the past eleven years in space, I will have certainly reported on it, with the relevant links in my posts.

  • Ray Van Dune

    Bob, this is not a snarky comment: can you suggest the search criteria that one could have used? I thought first of doing a search, but had trouble framing the question.

  • Ray Van Dune: Searches on BtB work better if you keep the search simple. For this search I would type BE-4 and ULA, at the most. Or BE-4 and Aerojet. Try both.

  • Edward

    Ray Van Dune and Robert,
    I had used “BE-4 ULA Vulcan”. I got a lot of hits and had to go back a few years. My success was due to knowing the answer already (Except I couldn’t remember whether it was the RL-1, but I was certain it wasn’t the RL-10) and just needed to find the BtB article announcing the decision.

    On Duck Duck Go, I just now asked the question: “What engines did ULA choose from for Vulcan?” and this came up:

    In the article at the top of the list, a BtB posting, Robert notes that the AR1 was 18 to 24 months behind the BE-4 development. It looks like conditions changed quickly, once the BE-4 was chosen.

  • Edward: That search you did on DuckDuckGo was gratifying to me, in that not only was BtB at the top, a second BtB post was about six down. My web searches are not normally for this kind of information (I get that at my own site), so I was surprised at your result.

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