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My July fund-raising campaign, celebrating the 13th anniversary of the start of this website, has now ended. This was the second most successful monthly fund-raising campaign ever. Thank you again to everyone who has who donated or subscribed. It is difficult to explain what your support means to me.


You can still donate or subscribe to support my work if you wish, either by giving a one-time contribution or a regular subscription. There are four ways of doing so:


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.


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Electron rocket fails during launch

Rocket Lab tonight (September 19, 2023 in New Zealand) experienced a launch failure during a launch of its Electron rocket from its New Zealand spaceport.

The failure occurred right after separation of the first stage from the upper stage. From that point all video from the rocket ceased, and the data indicated it was losing velocity, suggesting some failure of the second stage when its engines should have ignited.

This launch was to have been the second in a four-launch contract with the American company Capella Space, aimed at launching its constellation of commercial radar satellites for Earth observation.

The leaders in the 2023 launch race remain unchanged:

65 SpaceX
43 China
13 Russia
7 Rocket Lab
7 India

American private enterprise still leads China in successful launches 76 to 43, and the entire world combined 76 to 69. SpaceX by itself still trails the rest of the world combined (excluding American companies) 65 to 69.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • sippin_bourbon

    All of their failures have been 2nd stage failures, or ground sensors. The booster/1st stage has always been solid.
    This has to be frustrating for the team to see this happen as they become a mature launcher.

  • Jhon B

    SpaceX makes it look so easy, but seeing all the various launch failures, I guess it is not so easy. I guess that’s just how good they are.

  • Concerned

    Rocket Lab better get Neutron going and soon. They’re still not making money on those puny e- launches and never will. Musk learned that lesson immediately with Falcon 1. Chemical rockets simply have too small a mass fraction and must scale up if they’re to attract any appreciable PAY load. Failing 1 in 10 launches over 4 years will not help what little business case they can muster with the e-. Beck doesn’t have a lot of time to make that company profitable—I’m giving them at best a 50% chance of still being a separate company in 5 years.

  • Questioner


    At least Beck has now made sure that things will turn out well for him personally. He recently sold a lot of his Rocketlab shares and made a nice sum.

  • sippin_bourbon

    Your knowledge of Rocketlab’s business model is lacking. The launch services are not profitable, but that is not their money maker.

    If they were not turning all their money into R&D on Neutron, they would be profitable as a company.

    Beck is doing fine. He still has controlling shares. CEOs sell shares all the time.

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