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China and Rocket Lab complete successful launches

Two launches this morning herald the upcoming busy launch schedule for the last few days of June.

First China launched from its Jiuquan interior spaceport an Earth observation satellite using its Long March 4C rocket. As is usual with China, the first stage crashed on land, though no details have been provided.

Next, Rocket Lab used its Electron rocket to send NASA’s CAPSTONE cubesat lunar probe on its way to the Moon. More information here.

CAPSTONE is currently in low-Earth orbit, and it will take the spacecraft about four months to reach its targeted lunar orbit.

…CAPSTONE is attached to Rocket Lab’s Lunar Photon, an interplanetary third stage that will send CAPSTONE on its way to deep space. Shortly after launch, Lunar Photon separated from Electron’s second stage. Over the next six days, Photon’s engine will periodically ignite to accelerate it beyond low-Earth orbit, where Photon will release the CubeSat on a ballistic lunar transfer trajectory to the Moon. CAPSTONE will then use its own propulsion and the Sun’s gravity to navigate the rest of the way to the Moon. The gravity-driven track will dramatically reduce the amount of fuel the CubeSat needs to get to the Moon.

Once at the Moon, the spacecraft will enter a polar orbit varying from 1000 to 43,500 miles from the surface, with its prime mission to test operations in that lunar orbit.

Not only did NASA hire a private company, Rocket Lab, to launch it, the agency also hired a private company, Terran Orbital, to build it.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

26 SpaceX
21 China
8 Russia
4 Rocket Lab

American private enterprise still leads China 36 to 21 in the national rankings, and the entire world combined 36 to 34.

For the rest of June, the American companies SpaceX, Virgin Orbit, and ULA all have planned launches, as well as India. If all succeed, that would put the total launches in the first half of ’22 at 74, a pace that would almost reach 150 launches by the end of the year, smashing the annual record set last year. The U.S.’s pace in turn is likely to exceed the number of launches it completed in all of ’22 in July, with the possibility it could complete 75-80 launches by the end of the year, exceeding the U.S. annual record of 70 set in 1966.

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.

One comment

  • sippin_bourbon

    I got online about 2 mins before launch. Very smooth. They had to switch to CGI halfway through, as it was dark when they took off, and they did not mount any cams on the rocket, to avoid any weight penalties.

    It was still a good presentation.

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