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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.


2. Donate through Gabpay, using my email address zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

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

4. A Paypal Donation:

4. A Paypal subscription:

5. Donate by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman and mailed to
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c/o Robert Zimmerman
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Italy switches from Arianespace to SpaceX for launch contract

Capitalism in space: Because of the two recent launch failures of Arianespace’s Vega rocket (built mostly in Italy), the Italian space agency (ASI) has decided to take the launch of an Earth observation satellite from Arianespace and award the launch contract instead to SpaceX.

The article at the link describes in detail the history and politics that make this decision significant. Essentially, because Arianespace in the past decade has failed to meet the challenge of SpaceX, so that its launches continue to be more expensive, this government-subsidized business has tried to force nations in the European Space Agency (ESA) to use Arianespace rockets via political agreements.

With this decision Italy is defying that pressure, which in turn is going to increase the pressure on Arianespace to finally step up its game, or die from lack of business. For example, when the ESA agreed to have Arianespace build its next generation rocket, the Ariane 6, it failed to require it to be reuseable. The Ariane 6 rocket was therefore designed as an expendable rocket, which meant that right from the start it could not compete with SpaceX’s Falcon 9. It has therefore failed to win launch contracts.

Expect the Ariane 6 to continue to fade as the years pass, simply because the bureaucrats in ESA and Arianespace refused to take their competition seriously.

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.


  • Skunk Bucket

    If the quality control on Italian-made rockets is anything like that on the Italian-made Fiat 500 (often listed as the least reliable new car for sale in the US), I can’t blame them for going to SpaceX. Rocketry is hard, though sometimes we forget because SpaceX somehow makes it look easy.

  • Calvin Dodge

    “If the quality control on Italian-made rockets is anything like that on the Italian-made Fiat 500 …”

    It’s an Italian tradition. My Dad’s Fiat Strada had many repairs, proving the backronym of “Fix It Again, Tony!”

  • Skunk Bucket

    I drove a Strada in my Driver’s Ed classes and it seemed like a very nice little car, comparable to the VW Rabbit (Golf) of the time. Of course, that was on our parking lot driving range where we never went over 15mph, and it had less than 10k miles on it. I haven’t seen one on the road in thirty years, and I’m sure there’s a very good reason for that!

  • sippin_bourbon

    Wait till the boss hears about this.


  • I do not forget that the Italians were once Romans: we stand on big shoulders. Italian machinery is great; for a few hours. Exception would be bicycles; got it going on, there. Makes sense to go with a proven commodity.

  • Jeff Wright

    That’s a spicy meatball. I thought Arianespace…like the Olympics-was all about France still thinking it is a world power.

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