Conscious Choice cover

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.

 

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and 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.


GAO: Problems with Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine threaten ULA’s Vulcan rocket

Capitalism in space: According to a new report [pdf] issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on June 8th, on-going technical issues with Blue Origin’s BE-4 rocket engine threaten ULA’s planned inaugural launch of its new Vulcan rocket later this year.

From page 106 of the report:

A U.S. produced rocket engine [BE-4] under development [by Blue Origin] for ULA’s Vulcan launch vehicle is experiencing technical challenges related to the igniter and booster capabilities required and may not be qualified in time to support first launches beginning in 2021. A joint program office and ULA team is tracking these challenges, and NSSL officials told us Vulcan remains on track to support first launches and certification in 2021. However, if ULA cannot complete engine qualification before the 2021 flight certification, the program might continue to rely on ULA’s Atlas V—which uses engines manufactured in the Russian Federation—to support ULA’s 2022 launches, despite a nearly $2.9 billion investment in new launch system development. [emphasis mine]

ULA has a limited number of Russian engines in its inventory. At some point it must move on to American-built engines, and if Blue Origin’s BE-4 cannot be fixed then the company will be forced to look for other options.

Both ULA and Blue Origin maintain that the first Vulcan launch will occur in the fourth quarter of this year, launching Astrobotic’s lunar lander Peregrine to the Moon, but no date has been announced. If this GAO report is describing problems that still remain as of June 2021 and have not been fixed, then expect a further delay to be announced, probably by September.

These technical issues with the BE-4 engine also impact Blue Origin’s plans to begin launching its orbital rocket, New Glenn, next year. That rocket is already two years behind schedule, delays caused partly by these engine issues and partly due to the requirements imposed by the military under the above-mentioned $2.9 billion program to develop new launch systems. Without that new engine, Blue Origin’s much-touted effort to compete with SpaceX for commercial launches will go up in smoke.

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10 comments

  • Skunk Bucket

    I really want to believe in Blue Origin. I like Bezos’ dream of O’Neill colonies and space manufacturing more than Musk’s Mars-centric vision, but Jeff’s company just isn’t getting it done. Maybe once the engine issues are worked out they can get New Glenn flying and be a real SpaceX competitor, but with their almost paranoid secrecy, who knows when that will happen?

  • Mike Borgelt

    Mars makes a great, clear motivational goal. The capability to go there and back gives you everything else in between like space manufacturing, O’Neill colonies, Luna City etc.

  • mkent

    Both ULA and Blue Origin maintain that the first Vulcan launch will occur in the fourth quarter of this year, launching Astrobotic’s lunar lander Peregrine to the Moon, but no date has been announced.

    ULA and Astrobotic recently announced that due to payload issues, this launch will now occur in early 2022. ULA is still publicly saying that they intend to have Vulcan ready to fly by the end of the year, waiting for the payload. Skepticism is warranted, but that’s the public statement as of now.

    ULA has a limited number of Russian engines in its inventory. At some point it must move on to American-built engines, and if Blue Origin’s BE-4 cannot be fixed then the company will be forced to look for other options.

    There are currently another 30 Atlas V launches planned: 6 military, 4 NASA, 8 Starliner, 11 commercial, and 1 unreserved. And they can always order more RD-180s and build more Atlas Vs if they have to.

  • Jeff Wright

    Let Musk make the rocket, and Bezos the payload. Now ULA needs to build Pyrios as a fly-back to replace Vulcan and SRBs.

    Dynetics can bring back the F-1 with lower part count. J-2 for a bigger upper stage.

  • Richard M

    There are currently another 30 Atlas V launches planned: 6 military, 4 NASA, 8 Starliner, 11 commercial, and 1 unreserved. And they can always order more RD-180s and build more Atlas Vs if they have to.

    Well, for anything but national security launches. By law, DoD is not allowed to buy Atlas 5 launches after Dec. 31, 2022.

    For the moment, they have some buffer to play with. But if Vulcan gets pushed back much further, things start to get a little sticky.

  • mkent

    Well, for anything but national security launches. By law, DoD is not allowed to buy Atlas 5 launches after Dec. 31, 2022.

    True, but launches ordered in 2022 won’t take place until 2024 or 2025. ULA has *a lot* of time to work through any issues they may be having before it starts impacting revenue.

  • Col Beausabre

    I swear, I am NOT making this up

    “Washington Examiner

    Petition calling on Bezos to stay in space and never return to Earth receives thousands of signatures

    Michael Lee 25 mins ago…

    A petition urging billionaire Jeff Bezos not to return to Earth after his first space flight has gained tens of thousands of signatures. (85,000 plus Tuesday Afternoon)

    Seems mainly due to people objecting to his wealth and his spending it as he – not they – see fit

    “Billionaire’s [sic] should not exist … on earth, or in space, but should they decide the latter they should stay there,” read a petition on Change.org, which was addressed “to the proletariat.”

    “Critics have long accused Bezos of not being generous enough with his enormous wealth, with political analyst Earl Ofari Hutchinson noting former President Donald Trump has given away more than 3% of his fortune, while Bezos has parted with less than 1%.”

  • Col Beausabre: The petition is a nice indicator of the number of hateful totalitarians in our society today who think nothing of the idea of killing those they disagree with. I have already put this into my blacklist queue to write about at length.

  • mkent

    Tory Bruno, the CEO of ULA, commented today on the GAO report:

    Sadly inaccurate. Ie: while BE4 paces completion of Vulcan, as is typical in rocket development , there are no “igniter technical issues”. We will fly when our payload is ready.

    So there you have it.

  • Jeff Wright

    The GAO loves to attack all things space anyway. When was the last time they went after social programs that backfired?

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