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On February 5, 2023 I will celebrate my 70th birthday. Yay! As I do every year during this birthday month, I run a campaign to raise money to support my work here at Behind The Black. I do not run ads. My only support comes from my readers, which leaves me utterly free to speak my mind openly about space, culture, and politics. Please consider supporting me in this work by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, in any one of the following ways:


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China’s Long March 5 rocket successfully launches

In what appeared to be a picture perfect launch, China’s most powerful rocket, the Long March 5, successfully placed a test communications satellite into orbit.

This success follows two previous launch failures in 2016 and 2017, and a redesign of the rocket’s first stage engines that caused a two year delay in China’s space program. It now opens the door for China’s entire manned and planetary program, as they require the Long March 5 (or variations thereof) to lift their space station modules and all their planetary probes. I have embedded an english broadcast of the launch below the fold. The launch is about 54:00 minutes in.

The leaders in the 2019 launch race:

32 China
21 Russia
13 SpaceX
8 Arianespace (Europe)

China now leads the U.S. 32 to 27 in the national rankings.

At this point there is only remaining one launch for this year that is publicly scheduled, from Russian.

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 are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also 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.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

One comment

  • Dick Eagleson

    The time-of-day display in the data bar displayed above the control room footage seemed to correspond to this mission but I was amused to note the “2017-07-02” date. Xinhua seems not to have updated that date since the previous, failed, launch of LM5. That would be consistent with staffers repeatedly walking in front of the cameras which was also much in evidence. Overall, Xinhua seems to be notably more amateurish in its production values than all but the worst community access cable programming in the U.S.

    The Chinese space agency, though, deserves props for those too-brief parts of this webcast under their control – especially the rocket cam footage of strap-on booster separation and the tracking cam footage of the resulting “Korolev Star.” I would award a few demerits for the uninteresting mounting angle of the rocket cam in the 2nd stage engine bay. The Gordian Knot of engine tubing and wiring was far less interesting than a more inclined angle – ala SpaceX practice – that showed more of the engine bells would have been.

    Still, a better effort at ascent coverage by quite a bit than the recent Starliner mission. The Chinese space agency at least seems to grasp the fact that there is a mass public out here that really likes to see POV shots of rocket ascents and other key mission events. ULA gets this, but it seems to be a fact of which Boeing remains completely unaware.

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