The final week of my annual February birthday month fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black has begun. I continue to be overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, including numerous donations and a surge of new subscribers willing to commit to donating anywhere from $2 to $25 per month. Wow! The numbers are too many to send out individual thank you’s, so please forgive me for thanking you all with this one announcement.


The campaign however must go on, especially because I have added more regular features to my daily workload. In addition to my daily never-ending reporting on space exploration and science, my regular launch reports, my monthly sunspot updates, the regular cool images, and the evening pauses I post each evening, I have now added a daily weekday post I have entitled "Today's blacklisted American." Its goal is not to discuss policy or politics, but to note the endless examples occurring across the United States where some jack-booted thug or thugs think it is proper and acceptable to censor, blackball, cancel, and destroy an innocent American, merely because that American has expressed or holds an opinion or is of a race or religion that is no longer considered acceptable to the dominant leftist and bigoted culture. I want to make clear to every American that a large number of your fellow citizens no longer believe in the enlightened concept of freedom of speech or the idea of treating each person by the quality of their character.


Instead, they wish to shut you up, and oppress you if you happen to disagree with them or have the wrong skin color. This evil must be exposed.


To continue to do this into the foreseeable future however I need your support. If you are one of those millions who read Behind the Black each month, please consider donating or subscribing. Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

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Russia launches Progress freighter to ISS

Russia today successfully launched a new Progress freighter to ISS using its Soyuz-2 rocket, bring almost three tons of supplies to the station..

The 2021 launch race:

4 SpaceX
3 China
2 Russia
1 Rocket Lab
1 Virgin Orbit

The U.S. still leads China 6 to 3 in the national rankings. That lead should widen this week with three American launches scheduled, two Starlink launches from SpaceX and one Cygnus freighter from Northrop Grumman.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit.


  • LocalFluff

    I’ll try to keep track of capacity per country launched during 2021. I’ll note capacity due to launcher failures too (with a minus instead of a plus sign, not affecting national total launch success).

    As according to Wikipedia max capacity to LEO per rocket type (however LEO is defined, could be a short lived 200 km altitude, less than half the altitude of the ISS that needs yearly boosting to survive atmospheric drag). This simple method at least compares how much they COULD HAVE put in LEO (however it is defined, at lest one could adjust these numbers afterwards if someone knows a fair way to do that) And I of course use metric units, no body parts whether short nor long.

    Until and including February 15th 2021:

    WORLD 134,440 kg
    USA 92,000 kg 68%
    CHINA 27,200 kg 20%
    RUSSIA 15,220 kg 11%

    USA 92,000 kg
    SpaceX (91,200 kg)
    + 4 of Falcon 9 Block 5 = 22,800 kg each
    Rocket Lab (300 kg)
    + 1 of Electron = 300 kg each
    Virgin Galactic (500 kg)
    + 1 LauncherOne = 500 kg as to SSO230km each

    CHINA 27,200 kg
    + 2 of Long March 3B/E = 11,500 kg each
    + 1 of Long March 4C = 4,200 kg each
    – 1 Hyperbola 1 = 300 kg LAUNCH FAILURE

    RUSSIA 15,220 kg
    + 1 of Soyuz 2.1a = 7,020 kg each
    + 1 of Soyuz 2.1b = 8,200 kg each

    Wikipedia’s list of launches in 2021:

  • LocalFluff: Thank you for this additional parameter. If you can add it to each of my launch race posts both I and my readers will be very grateful.

  • LocalFluff

    Small sat launchers represent 0.6% of world total mass capacity to LEO.

  • LocalFluff

    Yes, I intend to update it for precisely that purpose. Exclusively for your blog :-) Although I might miss a few of your updates.

    Please come with feedback for improvements! I’ll add number of first stages reused and pro forma tonnage for that. Since it is different for reused and expended F9s and I will gladly make reasonable adjustments from the simple Wikipedia numbers for LEO capacity that I start out with now.

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