Another delay at Virgin Galactic

A quick holiday fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black!
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In past years I have managed to avoid asking for donations for Behind the Black during the holiday season. My finances however now compel me to do a short one-week fund-raiser, from November 11 to November 17.
I do not use Twitter for ethical reasons, which I have been told cuts down on traffic to the website. So be it. Furthermore, Facebook has clearly acted in the past two years to limit traffic to Behind the Black, almost certainly for political reasons. So be this as well. Finally, I do not post outside ads, as I have found them annoying to my readers and not that profitable to me.


Therefore, I need to ask for the direct support from my readers. If you like what I do here, please consider contributing, either by making a one-time donation or a monthly subscription, as indicated in the tip jar below.


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Or you could consider purchasing one of my books, as indicated in the boxes scattered throughout the website. My histories of space exploration are award-winning and are aimed for the general public. All are page-turners, and all not only tell the story of the beginning of the human exploration of space, they also help explain why we are where we are today. And I also have a science fiction book available, Pioneer, which tells its own exciting story while trying to predict what life in space will be like two hundred years in the future.


Note that for this week only I am also having a sale on the purchase of the last 20 hardbacks of Leaving Earth. (Click on the link for more information about the book, which was endorsed by Arthur C. Clarke himself!) This award-winning out-of-print book is now only available as an ebook, but I still have a handful of hardbacks available, normally for sale for $70 plus $5 shipping. For this week only you can buy them, personally autographed by me, for $50 plus $5 shipping! Just send me a check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to the address above, with a note saying that the money is for the Leaving Earth hardback.


Please consider donating. Your help will make it possible for me to continue to be an independent reporter in the field of space, science, technology, and culture.

In an interview with David Letterman this week, Richard Branson admitted that his first flight on SpaceShipTwo will not be in December 2014 but early next year.

Watch the interview at the link. It is very clear that Branson is getting uncomfortable with the situation. He has made these claims too many times without showing any results. Also note the incredible ignorance exhibited by Letterman. A good interviewer has to ask some basic questions, but a good interviewer also needs to have a basic understanding of the subject. Letterman shows us here that he doesn’t know squat.



  • Pzatchok

    He a few months to go and has yet to flight test the engines yet.

    I can see this happening. Not!

    Do we really think his board of directors is going to let him have his fun ride while he is still in charge of the company?
    Riding a balloon is one thing. balloon flights happen thousands of times a year. But under tested rockets to space?
    And will his passengers have any safety equipment? Such as a space suit in case of a cabin leak. Its not like this craft is built to make a powered entry/return in order to get below 20 thousand feet in time to save them.

  • AndrewJakobs

    Uhmm.. have you ever watched letterman? I guess you haven’t otherwise you wouldn’t say a thing like “Letterman shows us here that he doesn’t know squat”…

    Letterman isn’t a scientific program, it isn’t a serious interview program, it’s a fun and light entertainment program without any serious subjects.. He’s a comedian, not an interviewer.. And most people who watch letterman don’t care about the details, it’s all about the fun and laughter and interaction between letterman and his guests… And it has been a succesfull concept for a few decades, and will be for the next few (letterman will retire soon and will be superseded by another comedian)..

  • I’ve watched Letterman, and I also watched Johnny Carson for years. If Carson had someone on talking about a scientific subject, such as Carl Sagan, he made sure that he was reasonably educated about the subject so that other knowledgeable people could see that. He made an effort to be informed, and to ask informed questions.

    Letterman made no effort. He waved his ignorance like a flag.

    The audiences in both time periods wanted to be entertained. In Carson’s time however the audience was often entertained by some intelligent and educational conversation. In Letterman’s time it seems to me, based on your comment, today’s audience no longer thinks being intelligent or educated is entertaining. How sad.

  • wx

    please, it’s the letterman show. it’s comedy. it’s not meant to ask serious questions about space tourism or dwell on any failures. the audience doesn’t want that. he has a particular style, i’m sure he is a well rounded good interviewer. not the right place to expect that.

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