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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.


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First launch of Blue Origin’s orbital rocket delayed to ’22

Capitalism in space: In what had increasingly appeared likely in recent months, Blue Origin today announced that it is delaying the first launch of its orbital New Glenn rocket from late this year to sometime in ’22.

Blue Origin noted that the updated timeline follows the U.S. Space Force to stop its support for the New Glenn development effort as part of its procurement program for national security launches. That support, which could have added up to $500 million, was closed out at the end of last year.

The Space Force ended up choosing United Launch Alliance and SpaceX for the next round of national security launches. Jarrett Jones, Blue Origin’s senior vice president for New Glenn, told Space News that losing out on that round of launch contracts represented a $3 billion hit to anticipated revenue, and forced the company to “re-baseline” its development plans.

Personally I think this excuse is absurd. Jeff Bezos has been investing about $1 billion per year in Blue Origin. Moreover, in its announcement the company claimed it has invested $2.5 billion of that money in developing New Glenn. This is almost as much as SpaceX has raised to build Starship/Super Heavy, which is in development and in only about two years has already produced multiple prototypes and two test flights. Moreover, SpaceX developed Falcon Heavy for about a half billion dollars, and did it in less than seven years.

New Glenn has been in development for more than four years, and we have yet to even see it assembled in any form at all. The loss of that government military contract should have made no difference if Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin were really serious about building this rocket. He has given the company more than enough investment capital to get it done. They have just not delivered so far.

If I was Bezos, I would be taking a very hard look at the management at Blue Origin, with the intent to make some significant changes.

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.


  • Ray Van Dune

    If I was Elon Musk, I would be noting the latest non-developments at SLS, ULA and BO, and taking a hard look at human-rating Falcon Heavy. There’s gonna be a lotta heavy-lifting going un-lifted, before Starship / SuperHeavy is ready, especially ready for manned missions.

  • David Ross

    If Bezos was Bezos, he would be investing in Washington Post hitpieces against Musk and SpaceX, getting Amazon to run pro-Musk literature off the front page, and maybe even paying some trolls to post here.

  • Patrick Underwood

    What’s so wonderful is that SpaceX is privately held, so Musk and his investors are relatively immune to such propaganda.

    The recent funding round is evidence. People are climbing over each other to give Musk money.

  • George C

    Blue Origin makes the BE-4 engine which it is selling to ULA. Maybe it is better business to invest in the manufacturing and development of that component to maximize profit and to delay the whole rocket project. With the success of the CH4 fueled Raptor many rocket companies are going to want a CH4 fueled engine. Just thinkin’.

  • Jeff Wright

    I think Super Heavy should be human rated-with a scaled up Dream Chaser atop it. I don’t think Bezos will write hit pieces in his own name. He will pay trolls to go after SLS first to avoid push-back…but the ‘tell’ in those hit pieces will be the absence of SpaceX being mentioned much if at all. SLS always got hate from all sides-and was slow-walked from within. But BO shouldn’t have that problem-Bezos has had ample time to clear out the deadwood-and stop the paralysis of analysis.
    Frankly, I am to the point of questioning where he is a space advocate at all.
    Mr. Z lets us fight each other-and we fight because WE CARE. Does Bezos care? I wonder…

  • David M. Cook

    “Re-baselining”? That sure sounds like a NASA word! Bezos has had enough time to develop anything he wanted to by now. What he really wants is public money! Bezos is certainly NOT a space advocate!

  • mike shupp

    I wonder if Bezos might not have a people problem. The Seattle area was awash with aerospace talent — in terms of people and subtier supply firms — a few years ago, when Blue Origin was getting started. But Boeing’s decision to move its headquarters to Chicgo and decentralize its manufacturing around the world had probably lowered the level, People move, people retire without replacements being hired, machine shops shut down — that kind of thing. Not to denigrate Bezos or his people, but maybe the mixture of talent and experience he had expected to be available has fallen off.

  • Lee Stevenson

    I think the failure of Blue Origen to deliver might have a lot to do with Bezos stepping away from Amazon… Never mind all the sarcastic comments here, he is obviously a space nut, with goals similar to Elon. My guess is that he is going to leave his cash cow in a pair of safe hands, donate his charity to where he wants, ( which whatever you think of the causes he supports, and I know there are a lot of opponents of his environmental beliefs here… But it’s his money.. and giving some away can’t do much harm..), and I expect to see a much more “hands on” approach to Blue Origen in the very near future. The guy is obviously a genius on the same level as Musk, They are obviously in competition in the space race… I’m fully expecting a shake up and rapid advancement in BO very shortly! ( And is it not wonderful that we are talking about big players in the private space industry… A conversation that wouldn’t even have been thinkable 20 years ago.. props to the US !)

  • Jeff Wright

    There is a disconnect. In the past you had a wealth of talent-but no internet billionaires to fund them. By the time Boston Robotics wowed us, Asimov was just bones. Bradbury never got to see Starship-that looked just like he thought a Mars ship should. It isn’t fair. I’m tearing up typing this.
    You want to know the real reason I still support expendables? Because there is a part of me that believes that is all the universe will allow.
    The Saturns were totem beasts-the stagings were sacrifices…self immolation the price of admission into the heavens –
    – mission control? The Chorus…the call-outs the chants. And then Musk shows us this gleaming idol of our dreams…and still, I cannot quite believe it. So I still want the fall back. The universe is cruel.

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