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Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket lifts two more NASA hurricane monitoring satellites into orbit

Rocket Lab today successfully used its Electron rocket to place the last two of NASA’s four-satellite Tropics hurricane monitoring constellation into orbit.

The first launch occurred about two and a half weeks ago, on May 7, 2023. Both launches were originally contracted to Astra, but when that company discontinued operations of its Rocket-3 rocket, NASA turned to Rocket Lab.

The leaders in the 2023 launch race:

34 SpaceX
19 China
7 Russia
5 Rocket Lab

The U.S. now leads China 39 to 19 in the national rankings, and the entire world combined 39 to 33. SpaceX by itself now trails the entire world, including American companies, 34 to 38.

Note that at this moment SpaceX and Rocket Lab are the only American companies that have launched. The established rocket companies, ULA and Northrop Grumman, have launches planned but none as yet, while two American companies have ceased operations, Astra (supposedly temporarily) and Virgin Orbit (permanently).

American freedom resulted in the competition in rocketry which has lowered costs but taken business from the established companies. Freedom has also caused the death of two companies, because the success that freedom brings also carries risks. Failure can happen, but the sum total of achievement is always greater than when competition is squelched.

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.


  • Star Bird

    Just as long as their for Monitoring Hurricanes not spying on us

  • Edward

    You wrote: “Freedom has also caused the death of two companies, because the success that freedom brings also carries risks.

    I beg to differ. Virgin Galactic was not lost due to freedom but due to governmental interference — the opposite of freedom, as it was not free to launch on its intended launch date. Astra may not be lost but may be hibernating — or rather metamorphosing into a larger launch vehicle with a different customer base. We will have to see when/should it emerge from its chrysalis. This transformation is due to freedom.

    Astra is lost as a small-lift launch company (< 2,000 kg), as its planned Terran-R is a much larger heavy-lift launch vehicle, with a capacity (33,000 kg) similar to Falcon-9 (38,000 kg, when landing on a drone ship for reuse).

    A few weeks ago, I talked to someone who builds small satellites, and he was not happy about losing two smallsat launchers. It reduces the flexibility of choice of launch providers and does not help in the competition for reducing launch costs. He was concerned that some companies that otherwise would have ordered small satellites may decide to not expand their business into the small satellite arena or may decide to not start their businesses at all.

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