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My February birthday fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black it now over. I sincerely and with deep gratitude thank all those who donated. Without your support I could not keep doing this, not so much because of the need for income to pay the bills, but because it tells me that there are people out there who want me to do this work. For those who did not contribute during the campaign, please consider adding your vote of support to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, in any one of the following ways:


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.


2. Donate through Gabpay, using my email address zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

3. Patreon: Go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation.

4. A Paypal Donation:

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5. Donate by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman and mailed to
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FAA approves commercial launch license for Virgin Galactic

Capitalism in space: FAA today approved Virgin Galactic’s commercial launch license, allowing it to fly commercial paying tourists on its suborbital spacecraft, VSS Unity.

When Virgin Galactic will begin doing so remains uncertain. There have been rumors that the company is thinking of quickly scheduling a flight carrying Richard Branson for July 4th, thus beating Jeff Bezos’s planned July 20th into space. However, the company has denied this, referring back to its announced schedule.

Virgin Galactic has previously set out a schedule for this year, as it continues to mold the kind of service it plans to offer its commercial customers. This would see four of the company’s employees climb aboard Unity (along with the two pilots) for the next flight, to get a sense of the experience that future ticketed passengers will enjoy.

The flight after that is likely to see Sir Richard himself go to the edge of space, as a statement of readiness for commercial service.

And it’s then on the subsequent outing that the company is expected to start earning revenue from carrying people – although this is a mission that has been block booked by the Italian Air Force, which is going to put several payload specialists aboard Unity to supervise a number of microgravity experiments.

Regardless of when Branson’s first flight will be, that first commercial flight will come about fourteen years after the date Branson first predicted for such a flight. In 2004 he predicted he would fly by 2007 after hundreds of test flights, followed then by more hundreds of commercial flights each year. None of that ever happened, nor does it look like the flight numbers will ever approach his prediction.

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.


  • Jeff Wright

    If they really mean to certify that flying coffin-then I don’t want to hear a peep out of them against SpaceX.

    Stupid Elon…spending money on engineers instead of bribing regulators…

  • Col Beausabre

    Well, that answers my question whether space craft carrying paying passengers would have to be certified for commercial use by the FAA. Anybody know if Blue Origin is certified?

  • Mike Borgelt

    The license is based on risk to the uninvolved public. The FAA doesn’t care about the crew and passengers.
    See Parabolic Arc.

  • Jeff Wright

    Ah! Unlike a water tower, carbon fiber splinters won’t hurt ya as badly during a fall. Gotcha. Carry on.

    Super-Dave Osborn the pilot?

  • Col Beausabre

    Mike Borgelt

    Ҥ 91.319 Aircraft having experimental certificates: Operating limitations.
    (a) No person may operate an aircraft that has an experimental certificate –

    (1) For other than the purpose for which the certificate was issued; or

    (2) Carrying persons or property for compensation or hire.”

    Without commercial certification, Bezos wasn’t getting his $28M

    You can debate what’s behind the regulation and whether the FAA cares about the passengers, but thems the regs

    I’d be interested to see what Parabolic Arc has to say if you can point me to your reference

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