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.

Prototype of reusable suborbital spaceplane from new startup completes five flights

Capitalism in space: Another rocket startup company, Dawn Aerospace, has completed a five flight test program of a prototype of its proposed reusable suborbital spaceplane, dubbed Aurora.

Dawn Aerospace has successfully completed five test flights of its uncrewed Mk-II Aurora suborbital spaceplane in the skies over Glentanner Aerodrome on New Zealand’s South Island. The flights were conducted by the New Zealand-Dutch space transportation company from July 28 to 30, 2021 at altitudes of up to 3,400 feet (1,036 m), with the prototype airframe fitted with surrogate jet engines.

The three-days of test flights to assess the airframe and avionics of the aircraft took place under a certificate issued to Dawn by the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which allowed the Mk-II Aurora to operate from conventional airports without airspace restrictions after ground tests were completed.

The company claims this is a demonstrator for their fullscale two-stage-to orbit version that will take off from a runway and then launch small satellites into orbit.

Looks impressive, but my impression of this prototype is that it is a small scale model, only slightly more sophisticated and larger than a model airplane. That impression is reinforced by the video at the link, which provides no visible markers to judge size.

This company needs to get a lot more done if it wants to compete in this new market.


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  • Questioner

    Yes, it is a large R/C controlled model aircraft.

  • V-Man

    The engines at the back look like standard R/C jet turbines, which are about a foot long. I’ve seen larger and faster models on the various R/C forums I follow.

  • Jeff Wright

    Winged spaceflight needs a lot of love…

  • John E Bowen

    Observations and questions.

    “It’s currently equipped with surrogate jet engines, but these will be replaced by a liquid-fuel rocket engine, which is now undergoing static tests.”

    OK, investors may invest in whatever stage of development they choose, but I’d be focusing on how that engine is coming along. With a great body and no engine, you got nothin’. With a great engine, the rest of the rocket is still rocket science, but doable; plus, if the rocket as a whole fails, you still have an engine to sell, and that’s a business model. Just look at Blue Origin, eh, maybe.

    Another question I’d ask, is this the right engine? After years of following Bob, and also Doug Messier of Parabolic Arc, with their look at Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, I’d say sometimes the answer is No, despite the years of development.

    I’m not saying peroxide + kerosene is bad, just that it is different, and the company needs to prove its point. And the smallsat launcher dynamic may well be different. Fuel/oxidizer combinations may work well in small launchers that do not scale up well or seem needlessly expensive for large vehicles. IMHO, for small vehicles, design complexity and reliability are more important concerns, so the designs will look different, but the small launcher company may still succeed. Look at Rocketlab. Carbon fiber construction is pretty expensive, per kilo, but they’ve still made a go of it. Firefly Alpha is also, if I remember correctly.

    Changing tack: so, Dawn Aerospace’s competitor is Virgin Orbit. Launch from where you like, and still get an orbit you can live with. Virgin Orbit, with help and advice from their buddies in the Virgin Group, picks 747 as their “first stage.” They may succeed, as a business. Dawn Aerospace has to design an upper stage, presumably some kind of normal looking rocket, and they have to design their first stage, an entirely new aircraft, capable of, what, Mach 4? Well, that seems a challenge for a young startup. Perhaps I’m missing something. Perhaps the winged vehicle releases a two stage rocket, like the 747, and so doesn’t need to reach high speeds itself.

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