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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:


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February 28, 2023 Quick space links

Courtesy of BtB’s stringer Jay.







  • Another version of China’s heavy lift Long March 9 unveiled
  • Having the ability to change is not in itself a bad thing, but indecisiveness can be a curse. At present it is not clear which it is for this particular Chinese rocket project. Jay’s comment: “Dr. Long [the designer] … can’t decide which plans to steal and build.”

Jay asks forgiveness for the lateness today of these quick links, as he was overwhelmed with work at his real job. I say, no apology required. Thank you Jay!

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.


  • sippin_bourbon

    The article does not say it, but for Rocket Lab, this is four additional launches contracted with Capella. They already have one launch scheduled, presumably to launch in March.

  • Richard M Lender

    Here’s one for the next Quick Links, perhaps: Eric Berger reports that ULA may be up for sale.

    Oh, there’s an article now, too:

    Which I think is something many of us have expected would happen at some point this decade. But I confess, I didn’t expect it quite this soon. But then again, something like later this year may be the optimum time for Boeing and Lockheed to get the best price: A successful Vulcan debut, and lots of USSF, Kuiper, and Dream Chaser launches locked up on the manifest for the next five years, but before Starship, Neutron, Terran R, and friends saturate the medium/heavy class market with cheap launchers.

  • Dick Eagleson

    I don’t think the deployment method for the new V2.0-mini Starlinks is all that different from the way V1.0 and V1.5 birds are deployed. The main difference seems to be that the stack retaining rods now remain with the second stage instead of being left in the initial deployment orbit. That orbit is fairly low and the rods don’t have especially lengthy on-orbit lifetimes, but this new arrangement allows them to re-enter with the 2nd stage more certainly and promptly. This just looks like an incremental SpaceX improvement in “debris hygiene.”

  • Edward

    The Starlink deployment video is consistent with the launch video of the fairing separation. Fairing separation was viewed from the top of the stack, too. The camera, being on the top of the stack looking back along the spacecraft body, gave us a different view of fairing separation during the launch video. Here we see that the satellite release mechanism was attached to the upper stage and, as Dick Eagleson pointed out, didn’t become orbital debris. When the restraint comes alongside the body of the upper stage, we get a view of the departing Starlink satellites.

    This version of Starlink, V2-minus, is lighter than the full version. The Falcon 9 was able to put up a few more than I had calculated based upon the full version’s weight.

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