Scroll down to read this post.


Please consider supporting my work here at Behind The Black by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, in any one of the following ways:


1. Zelle: This is the only internet method that charges no fees. All you have to do is use the Zelle link at your internet bank and give my name and email address (zimmerman at nasw dot org). What you donate is what I get.


2. Patreon: Go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation.

3. A Paypal Donation:

4. A Paypal subscription:

5. Donate by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman and mailed to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

Arianespace offers to pick up SpaceX business

The competition heats up: In an effort to gain more business, Arianespace is offering to add an additional launch to its 2017 schedule for any satellite companies whose payload launch is being delayed by both SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launchpad explosion as well as a delay in Russian Proton launches due to its own technical issues.

In his remarks it seemed to me that the CEO of Arianespace was almost gloating.

In a Sept. 7 interview with France Info radio, Israel reiterated his confidence in what he portrayed as Arianespace’s more plodding, deliberative — and higher-cost — approach to launches when compared to SpaceX.

Arianespace does not want a reusable rocket for the moment, he said, because it’s not certain that reusability can reduce costs and maintain reliability. The Ariane 6 rocket, to operate starting in 2020, will not be reusable. The company also is wary of the Silicon Valley ethos that champions constant iteration, which he said has been a feature of Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX as well. “We think that the more a launch resembles the preceding launch, the better we are for our customers because we remain in the ‘explored domain’ where everything is understood,” Israel said.

In the short run he and Arianespace might benefit by this situation, but in the long run they will face a shrinking market share if they cannot lower the price of their rockets.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


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.


All editions available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors. The ebook can be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner. Note that the price for the ebook, $3.99, goes up to $5.99 on September 1, 2022.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • I sincerely hope that business schools around the country are taking notes on the current commercial space landscape and designing curricula. We’re watching a nascent Golden Age of Space in real time.

  • Localfluff

    Yeah, I suggest that those who seriously follow this business keep some kind of diary with the thought in mind to write some kind of case study at least, after the fact. All industries have their weird quirks. Space is interesting because of its shift from government to private. Big geomilitary politics mixed with individual billionaires and crazy space cadets. It is often hard to tell who is a fraudster and who is honestly just stupid.

    Life has been on Earth for about four billion years. Now, since one hundredth of a millionth of that time, life is for the first time moving further than its home planet. We live in an extremely special time. And we’re not doing it Star Trek style, but we’re stumbling it very randomly and clumsily. Like life does everything. It works beyond our overestimated intelligence. It’s unstoppable, uncontrollable.

  • ” And we’re not doing it Star Trek style, . . ”


    This is how you get to ‘Star Trek’ style.

  • Edward

    There is a reason why the Silicon Valley has an ethos that champions constant iteration: it gets you ahead faster than those who do not iterate. The Silicon Valley is working very hard to keep up with Moore’s Law, despite the size of each transistor getting closer and closer to the size of an atom.

    I believe that this ethos is why commercial-space is going to rapidly surpass government-space. Like the title of one of Douglas Adams’s Zaphod Beeblebrox stories, government plays it safe. No one gets fired from government for playing it safe.
    A famous philosopher (me) once said there are three kinds of people in the world: 1) those who make something happen; 2) those who wish something would happen; and 3) those who wander in a daze wondering what happened. What kind are you? The British RAF motto: “Those who risk win.” Aim low and you will achieve it and be one of those wandering in a daze. Aim high and you have a chance to make something happen. “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” Make positive change. Step forward rather than marking time or stepping back.

    Silicon Valley is world-famous precisely because it stopped doing what it always did and braved going beyond “the ‘explored domain’ where everything is understood.” Otherwise it would still call itself “The Valley of the Heart’s Delight” and be filled with orchards. Instead, we now enjoy many things that we take for granted, including GPS, a computer on every desktop, Earth observation and weather prediction, the internet, and international telecommunications. All of these are based upon technologies that were iterated into rapid improvement by Silicon Valley companies.

    From the article: “It is very difficult to do innovate with each launch, increase launch cadence and avoid failure all at the same time.

    It is no wonder that SpaceX is the company to beat, in the space launch industry. It is one of the few that is willing to take on the difficult. It may not be certain that reusability can reduce costs and maintain reliability, but if it does, then those who are willing to take that risk will win.

  • Craig Beasley

    While I understand the rough-and-tumble of real capitalism in cases like this, Arianespace’s “offer” smells a lot like kicking the competition while they’re down.

Readers: the rules for commenting!


No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.


However, name-calling and obscenities will not be tolerated. First time offenders who are new to the site will be warned. Second time offenders or first time offenders who have been here awhile will be suspended for a week. After that, I will ban you. Period.


Note also that first time commenters as well as any comment with more than one link will be placed in moderation for my approval. Be patient, I will get to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.