Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

FAA’s approval of SpaceX’s Starship operations delayed at least a month

The FAA has now had to delay the final approval of its environmental reassessment of SpaceX’s Starship facility and operations at Boca Chica for at least one month because NOAA has refused to approve the plan.

That puts NOAA’s generic review of Rocket Landing and Launches back to at least the end of January, with the much more complex and contentious USFWS [Fish and Wildlife] review also pending (this one is habitat and species review of impacts to bird and wildlife populations specific to Boca Chica).

The earliest approval by the FAA (which again, is far from a sure thing) should be projected into February. And the actual launch license process can’t be started until then. March is absolutely the earliest even the giddiest optimist could expect for Starship’s Maiden Orbital Flight.

It appears that the bureaucrats in NOAA are hostile to the launch site, and are looking for reasons, mostly environmental, to either block it or slow it down.

It also appears that a second Department of the Interior agency must sign off, and it is also hostile.

Based on this story, it looks like Starship’s first orbital flight will not happen until the latter half of ’22, if then. Nor can we expect any help from the Biden administration. Unlike Trump, the Democrats now running the executive branch of government do not like private enterprise and business, and generally look for excuses to regulate and even block it, especially if they think there is the slightest chance it might harm some formerly unknown species somewhere.

This is America today, no longer free. Rather than you making the decision freely, as an American citizen, un-elected federal government officials now decide whether you can do anything, or not.


I must unfortunately ask you for your financial support because I do not depend on ads and rely entirely on the generosity of readers to keep Behind the Black running. You can either make a one time donation for whatever amount you wish, or you sign up for a monthly subscription ranging from $2 to $15 through Paypal or $3 to $50 through Patreon.

Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

Your support is even more essential to me because I not only keep this site free from advertisements, I do not use the corrupt social media companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook to promote my work. I depend wholly on the direct support of my readers.

You can provide that support to Behind The Black with a contribution via Patreon or PayPal. To use Patreon, go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation. For PayPal click one of the following buttons:


Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If Patreon or Paypal don't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to

Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

Or you can donate by using Zelle through your bank. You will need to give my name and email address (found at the bottom of the "About" page). The best part of this electronic option is that no fees will be deducted! What you donate will be what I receive.


  • Patrick Underwood

    They’re afraid a Starship water landing will introduce “invasive species” into the Gulf of Mexico? What kind of nutjob could even imagine such a thing, much less imagine anyone else would fall for it?

    But of course, we’re talking federal bureaucracy here. So… never mind.

  • Patrick Underwood

    Oh. They’re talking about the hulls of possible recovery ships.

    So, does a freighter from the West Coast have to pass an interagency review before sailing into the Gulf?

    This is madness.

  • Diane Wilson

    Beyond NIMBY.

    BANANA. (Build Absolutely Nothing, Anywhere, Near Anything)

  • David Ross

    This is purest horse-exhaust. I notice that your source is cheering the news, adding stuff about Musk’s “sexism”, because he’s a horrible person.
    I left a comment [with a link] at Casey Handmer’s blog. I suggest anyone in the science community (which I’m not) make noise about this travesty.

  • Richard M

    ESG Hound has been on a one man mission (well, OK, he obviously has allies) to scupper SpaceX’s entire operation at Boca Chica almost from the beginning, so of course this latest delay is a cause for cheer for him.

  • Jeff Wright

    I really hate Greens

  • Michael

    It seems to me that beside Elon there are a bunch billionaires or factions representing billionaires that are deeply invested in SpaceX and part of this fight. If SpaceX looses the the investors loose big time so it would seem that they (SpaceX) probably have mucho powerful allies in this fight.

    With this much money involved it is probably a no holds barred contest.

    All is not lost – except for time of course.

  • Steve Richter

    Where is the government of the state of Texas in this? I thought Texans valued their independence. Or is that just talk?

  • David Telford

    What’s the Soc Sec Admin think of this launch? The Department of Motor Vehicles? Ministry of Funny Walks?

    This activity has not been so thoroughly vetted as we might hope.

  • Doubting Thomas

    Jeff Wright – The answer to your question is: Gov. Greg Abbott. Texas RINO

  • Michael G. Gallagher

    Fallen Angels shouldn’t be a how-to manual. However, I expected this to happen since the traitors to freedom are now in charge.

  • Michael G. Gallagher

    Fallen Angels is not a how-to manual.

  • Steve C

    Starship will not be allowed to launch before SLS.

Readers: the rules for commenting!


No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.


However, name-calling and obscenities will not be tolerated. First time offenders who are new to the site will be warned. Second time offenders or first time offenders who have been here awhile will be suspended for a week. After that, I will ban you. Period.


Note also that first time commenters as well as any comment with more than one link will be placed in moderation for my approval. Be patient, I will get to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *