Scroll down to read this post.


I am now in the final week of my July fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black, celebrating its 14th anniversary. Thank you all, from the people who have donated small amounts to those who have given large sums. I cannot truly express how much your support means to me.


The support of my readers through the years has given me the freedom and ability to analyze objectively the ongoing renaissance in space, as well as the cultural changes -- for good or ill -- that are happening across America. Four years ago, just before the 2020 election I wrote that Joe Biden's mental health was suspect. Only in the past two weeks has the mainstream media decided to recognize that basic fact.


Fourteen years ago I wrote that SLS and Orion were a bad ideas, a waste of money, would be years behind schedule, and better replaced by commercial private enterprise. Even today NASA and Congress refuses to recognize this reality.


In 2020 when the world panicked over COVID I wrote that the panic was unnecessary, that the virus was apparently simply a variation of the flu, that masks were not simply pointless but if worn incorrectly were a health threat, that the lockdowns were a disaster and did nothing to stop the spread of COVID. Only in the past year have some of our so-called experts in the health field have begun to recognize these facts.


Your help allows me to do this kind of intelligent analysis. I take no advertising or sponsors, so my reporting isn't influenced by donations by established space or drug companies. Instead, I rely entirely on donations and subscriptions from my readers, which gives me the freedom to write what I think, unencumbered by outside influences.


Please consider supporting my work here at Behind the Black.


You can support me either by giving a one-time contribution or a regular subscription. There are five ways of doing so:


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

3. A Paypal Donation:

4. A Paypal subscription:

5. Donate by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman and mailed to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652


You can also support me by buying one of my books, as noted in the boxes interspersed throughout the webpage or shown in the menu above. And if you buy the books through the ebookit links, I get a larger cut and I get it sooner.

Iran finally admits rocket launch on December 30th was a failure

One day after implying that the test launch of Iran’s Simorgh orbital rocket on December 30th was actually a suborbital flight and was a success, that same official admitted yesterday that this was not true, that the plan had been to put three satellites in orbit, and that the launch was a failure.

Ahmad Hosseini, an Iranian defense ministry spokesman, revealed that the rocket failed to put its three payloads into orbit after the rocket was unable to reach the required speed, according to the news agency.

“For a payload to enter orbit, it needs to reach speeds above 7,600 (meters per second). We reached 7,350,” he said in a documentary broadcast on state TV.

It was Hosseini who claimed the launch was a success the day earlier, implying that the low speed was because the flight was intended to be suborbital. Either he knows nothing about rocketry (very likely), or is merely a mouthpiece who was ordered to change his story when the first story was laughed out of the room (also very likely).

The article at the link focuses on France’s condemnation of the launch, claiming it was a ballistic missile.

France’s foreign ministry said the launch was in breach of UN Security Council resolutions, Reuters reported. “We call on Iran not to launch further ballistic missiles designed to be capable of carrying nuclear weapons, including space launchers,” the ministry said.

Simorgh however is not a ballistic missile. Everything I have read about it suggests it is designed to put payloads in orbit, not deliver bombs to other parts of the globe. A ballistic missile is technically a very different thing. It usually uses solid rockets which can be stored for long periods and launched at a moment’s notice. Simorgh uses hypergolic fuels which — though they can be used on ballistic missiles — are rarely used for that purpose because of their toxic nature.

At the same time, these facts about Simorgh should not make us think Iran is not a threat. If you can develop the manpower and technical know-how to built an orbital rocket, you will also have increased your ability to build missiles. Iran is without doubt working to develop both.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.


The print edition can be purchased at Amazon. Or you can buy it directly from the author and get an autographed copy.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • Col Beausabre

    “A ballistic missile is technically a very different thing. It usually uses solid rockets which can be stored for long periods and launched at a moment’s notice. Simorgh uses hypergolic fuels which — though they can be used on ballistic missiles — are rarely used for that purpose because of their toxic nature.”

    I have to disagree

    See the US Titan

    “Titan was a family of United States expendable rockets used between 1959 and 2005. The Titan I and Titan II were part of the US Air Force’s intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) fleet until 1987. ”

    “The Martin Company was able to improve the design with the Titan II. The RP-1/LOX combination was replaced by a room-temperature fuel whose oxidizer did not require cryogenic storage. The same first-stage rocket engine was used with some modifications. The diameter of the second stage was increased to match the first stage. The Titan II’s hypergolic fuel and oxidizer ignited on contact, but they were highly toxic and corrosive liquids. The fuel was Aerozine 50, a 50/50 mix of hydrazine and UDMH, and the oxidizer was NTO.”

    Almost all Soviet/Russian ICBM’s used hypergolics (“stored liquid fuels”) because they lagged in solid fuel development

  • Col Beausabre: The Titan was developed in the 1960s, and abandoned decades ago when we signed a treaty with the Russians in I think the late seventies. In general, missiles worldwide today use solid rocket technology, though of course there are exceptions (as I noted).

    I am also certain that Iran could get help to do this from China. In fact, in Iran’s successful orbital in April 2020 solid rocket technology was almost certainly used, as the orbital rocket used a mobile launcher.

    Though everything in Iran is, like China, linked to its military ambitions, for engineering reasons the goals of the Simorgh program appear aimed at actually technology for launching satellites, not ICBM bombs. The two are different.

    Such technology of course will be used to launch surveillance satellites, and as I noted the know-how gained from building it can aid missile development.

  • wayne

    I think the operative word here is “ballistic,” rather than solid vs liquid fuel.

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 *