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I am now in the second week of my July fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black, celebrating its 14th anniversary. Thank you to everyone that donated so generously last week. I hope week two will do as well.


Your donations and subscriptions have allowed me the freedom and ability to analyze objectively the ongoing renaissance in space, as well as the cultural changes -- for good or ill -- that are happening across America. Four years ago, just before the 2020 election I wrote that Joe Biden's mental health was suspect. Only in the past two weeks has the mainstream media decided to recognize that basic fact.


Fourteen years ago I wrote that SLS and Orion were a bad ideas, a waste of money, would be years behind schedule, and better replaced by commercial private enterprise. Even today NASA and Congress refuses to recognize this reality.


In 2020 when the world panicked over COVID I wrote that the panic was unnecessary, that the virus was apparently simply a variation of the flu, that masks were not simply pointless but if worn incorrectly were a health threat, that the lockdowns were a disaster and did nothing to stop the spread of COVID. Only in the past year have some of our so-called experts in the health field have begun to recognize these facts.


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Europe at last launches Ariane-6

Ariane-6 seconds after liftoff
Ariane-6 seconds after liftoff

Arianespace, the commercial rocket arm of the European Space Agency (ESA) today successfully completed the first launch of its new Ariane-6 rocket, lifting off from French Guiana in South America carrying nine cubesats plus two re-entry test capsules.

As of posting, the nine cubesats have been deployed. Of the remaining payloads, one is a smallscale version of the return cargo capsule being built by the French company The Exploration Company. It will test the re-entry technology for that capsule.

UPDATE: There was an issue restarting the upper stage later in the flight that prevented the last payloads from being released. The bigwigs at the press conference at this link repeatedly insisted the flight was a complete success, but this failure of the upper stage is not a good thing, but hardly a disaster. It is similar to problems Firefly had on some of its early flights, which the company was able to overcome.

If all goes as planned, Arianespace and Arianegroup (the private company that builds and owns the rocket) hope to ramp up launches over the next three years, doing one more in 2024, six in 2025, eight in 2026, and ten in 2027. It says the rocket has contracts for thirty launches, eighteen of which are for launching Amazon’s Kuiper internet constellation.

I expect Ariane-6 to face heavy competitive pressure over that time period, not only from SpaceX but from the new European rocket startups that should begin launching at far less cost. The pressure should make the future of Ariane-6 somewhat dim, unless the European Union steps in and mandates its use by European satellite companies. If the latter happens, expect Europe’s entire space industry to suffer badly.

This was Europe’s first launch in 2024, so the leader board in the 2024 launch race has not changed:

71 SpaceX
30 China
8 Russia
8 Rocket Lab

American private enterprise still leads the world combined in successful launches, 83 to 46, while SpaceX by itself still leads the entire world, including other American companies, 71 to 58.

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 print edition can be purchased at Amazon. Or you can buy it directly from the author and get an autographed copy.

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"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


  • M. Murcek

    Another expendable rocket. They are chortling over at SpaceX…

  • Ray Van Dune

    My idiot Sister-in-Law keeps talking about how SpaceX is a “monopoly” because they charge less than what everyone else does, principally by reusing their rockets instead of throwing them in the ocean. Did I mention that she’s an environmentalist too? God help us.

  • pzatchok

    I can see why they finished and launched this craft. The old sunk finances problem. Pay to much already to stop now.

    But I will be surprised if they keep flying past next year. And I would love to see them announce a re-usable rocket soon.

  • Ray Van Dune:

    I did a BOTE analysis of launcher reusability by dry mass fraction recovered. Falcon 9 has an 87% reusability (1st stage and fairing), while Falcon Heavy has an astounding 97% reusability if all three boosters and the fairing are recovered. Even expending the center booster yields a 64% re-use. Starship/Super Heavy, of course, is designed for 100% re-use. I would think that an environmentalist would be a SpaceX fangirl, given that it is only one of two companies, Rocket Lab being the other, that recycles their equipment. That she is not, makes me think that her ‘environmentalism’ is a cover for her politics. Does she truly want more efficient, less impactful industry (engineering!), or is that only true if the ‘right’ people are in charge?

    “I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is
    southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw.”

    Hamlet Act 2 Scene 2 Shakespeare 1603

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