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China launches four satellites

Using its Long March 2C rocket, China today successfully launched four satellites, three military reconnaissance satellites and one data communications satellite.

While the first stage crashed inside China (no word on whether it landed near habitable areas), China also claimed it attempted a recovery of the fairings for reuse. At this time no information has been released on what was achieved.

The leaders in the 2021 launch race:

23 China
20 SpaceX
11 Russia
3 Northrop Grumman

The U.S. still leads China 29 to 23 in the national rankings.

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.


  • Scott Thybony

    The lacey rocks shown appear to be ventifacts, the name geologists use for wind-eroded rock. Best examples I’ve seen are northeast of Sunset Crater and the hoodoo lands above Ward Terrace in the Painted Desert. Come to think of it, a lot of that redrock country has a martian appearance.

  • Mark

    Following up on the 17 comments on Bob’s July 17th post regarding China, I want to respond to Questioner’s inquiry into “the unhappy political developments in America” in relation to categorizing the differences among communist, fascistic, and authoritarian state actors. This is relevant to the Behind the Black site because the actions of the US Government and US based elites have significant influence on the progress of as Bob describes ‘Capitalism in Space’, ‘ the New Colonial Movement’, and the Launch Race that Bob chronicles.
    I do not think any previous historical terminology or analogies can fully address the current American political landscape. Sorry for the long post, but please respond if you agree or disagree with this high level analysis. One could say that after WW2, we had the Global American Empire whose American elites set the rules of international trade/finance and whose military combatted the Global Soviet Empire. Those American elites operated more or less within the historical political constitutional norms. With the fall of the USSR, the world was left to the Unipolar Global American Empire, and the American Elites were unprepared for this, beyond unifying Germany, having NATO advance in Eastern Europe, and grabbing marketshare in this expanded European economic sphere. In the late 90s and early 2000s, European elites demanded and got a place at the head of the table with the American elites to set the new rules of international trade/finance so we basically had a Western Global Empire with the American elites as the Senior Partners, and the Western European Elites on a fast track partner track. The European elites were happy to have the US bear the majority of the military burdens. After the global financial meltdown in 2008, the Europeans were granted full partnership status. From 2009 to 2014, US elites were aligned with the US political establishment.
    In 2015, the Republicans took control of the Senate and were happy to continue representing the interests of the American elites. But a seismic shift had occurred with American elites. They were no longer satisfied with commercial and financial dominance. They wanted world cultural dominance (especially the elites spawned by Silicon Valley), and they joined with their European elite partners to push for it. The One Per cent of the One Per Cent in America now consider themselves Global Citizens, and it is they who push the Cultural and Political Initiatives of what is now the Global Western Empire (GWE).
    However, it is not a Unipolar moment similar to 1991. The GWE faces the stiffest competition from an aggressive Chinese Asian Empire, and from the nuclear armed Putin Russian Empire punching continuously above its weight. The GWE is schizophrenic when it comes to China, since the West is impelled to grab marketshare in the expanded Asian economic sphere. The GWE can use Putin’s Russia as a convenient whipping boy while at the same time accepting a permanent energy lifeline from Russia. The GWE also has to take account of various aspiring regional empires such as the chest thumping Erdogan Neo Ottoman Empire, and the hemmed in Hindu Subcontinental Empire that has wildly uneven development. Moreover there are Wildcard regions such as the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America that have their own unique resources, markets, and political/cultural land mines. Finally there are the two wildcard states grifting off the world system with a hyper aggressive foreign policy skating the knife’s edge of nuclear blackmail.
    The Global Western Empire has its hands full dealing with all the above, while at the same time pushing forward its policy prescriptions to build the pillars for twenty first century GWE financial, economic, political and cultural dominance. In relation to mankind’s advances in Space, NASA’s Artemis program is the approved program of the Global Western Empire with the US and Europe as senior partners, and with junior partners such as Korea gladly signing on. The launch competition with China is an economic, military, and cultural competition that will rival the original US Soviet space race. Russia is coasting on the accomplishments of its Soviet past, and is desperately trying to punch above its weight just as it is militarily.
    So “the unhappy political developments in America” are at best a sideshow to the Global Elites in America precisely because they no longer consider themselves citizens or protectors of the Historical American Constitutional Republic. I agree with Bob that ‘Capitalism in Space’ should be supported, but I don’t know whether a global bureaucracy will grow up around Artemis and hold back the development of Space.

  • Mark: Nice summary. You wrote that post WWII, “Those American elites operated more or less within the historical political constitutional norms.” True.

    You should have noted that the modern “Global Western Empire” no longer follows those norms. If anything, they outright reject them, and instead allow the lure of power to rule their actions.

    This is the fundamental change that is destroying freedom and western civilization, taking us headlong into a dark age that will make the oppression and serfdom of the medieval era seem wonderful in comparison.

  • Mark

    Bob, I think your series on ‘Today’s blacklisted Americans’, and your coverage of the election audits is solid commentary on how today’s elites no longer follow America’s historical political constitutional norms. Ironically, while you believe as I do that these elites are taking us headlong into a ‘dark age’, those same elites believe they are taking humanity into “a Coming Golden Age’ propelled by their tech. For example, in the May/June 2021 issue of the elite journal Foreign Affairs, there is a piece entitled ‘Globalization’s Coming Golden Age: Why Crisis Ends in Connection”.

  • Mark: There is none so blind as those who will not see.

  • Jeff Wright

    Musk is one man with a passion mostly surrouded by sleep o’nights. China is a nation filled with such men.

    As much as it hurts to say…it must be allowed that a Falcon is no match for a Dragon. Libertarians gave that Dragon teeth via free trade, and by underming our space infrastructure by attacking SLS while China stands with rocket men. This wound was self inflicted. You are not going to like this-but despite the flag-waving-I question the Patriotism of libertarians.

  • Edward

    Jeff Wright,
    SLS is a regression from the reusable Space Shuttle concept back to the one-and-done expendable rocket and capsule concept of the 1960s. Such regression is patriotic? Leave it to Congress to design such a space system rather than move forward to a better, more efficient version of the Space Shuttle.

    What did government and the heritage space industry learn from the Space Shuttle? That the 1960s methods were better. What did NewSpace learn from the Space Shuttle? How to do things better. Blue Origin, Rocket Lab, and SpaceX chose reusability over expendability. In addition to reusability, Sierra Nevada and Virgin Galactic learned the efficiency of runway landings.

    I’ll take the patriotism of improving the technology and increasing the efficiency over the “patriotism” of regressing to historical methods and inefficiencies. SLS is being beat out by Starship because it is designed with advancement and efficiency in mind. Starship has goals to reach.

    SLS was designed and mandated by Congress, because Congress wanted a launch capacity without having any goals in mind. No scientific goal. No destination. No improvement in efficiency. As a result, its projected launch cadence is almost non-existent, and its cost is astronomical. It may have a capacity to put large masses into orbit, but it does not have much usefulness. If the a sustainable Moon base is a goal and destination, then an annual launch cadence is poor for sustainability, and a billion dollar cost is poor use of taxpayer money.

    With SLS, we are not getting much value for our money, but with Starship we get great value for SpaceX’s money. SLS launches so infrequently and is so costly that it has only government customers, not commercial ones. Annually, Starship can launch far more often for far less cost, and it will have plenty of commercial customers. This increased access to space is what will take us into the future, not SLS, not the government, and not even the Chinese government.

    Now, that is patriotic.

  • Dick Eagleson

    China is not a nation filled with Elon Musks. If it was, Xi would already be sitting in the White House instead of having to settle for renting its current occupant. The PRC has reached MECO on a suborbital trajectory. It may continue to coast for a bit, but will soon enough fall to Earth as demographic and economic gravity have their way.

    And ditto to Edward.

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