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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If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
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Smallsat rocket company Astra to go public

Capitalism in space: A merger with a major investment capital company, bringing in $500 million, will result in the smallsat rocket company Astra going public.

Small launch vehicle developer Astra will go public by merging with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC), providing the company with nearly $500 million in cash and valuing it at more than $2 billion.

Astra announced Feb. 2 an agreement to merge with Holicity, a SPAC established last year by Craig McCaw. That merger, expected to close in the second quarter, will turn Astra into a publicly traded company on the Nasdaq exchange with the ticker symbol ASTR. McCaw, chairman and chief executive of Holicity, will join Astra’s board as part of the deal.

Astra expects to raise $489 million through the merger with Holicity, a total that includes a $200 million private investment in public equity (PIPE) led by BlackRock and $30 million from a concurrent Series C round, company executives said in an investor call. The deal will value Astra at $2.1 billion.

In the article Astra’s head claimed the company already has contracts for its first fifty flights, but did not provide any details. At this moment Astra has yet to complete a successful orbital launch, and has two attempted orbital tests which both failed.

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.


  • wayne

    they lost me at Blackrock. I’m going to call a bubble.

    “Chamath Palihapitiya’s SPAC ‘Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings’ bought a 49% stake in Virgin Galactic for $800 million before listing the company in 2019.

    The Big Short (2015)
    Scion Capital cashes out

    “Looks like the collapse of the financial sector is imminent. Let’s start to sell my position. It’s $1.3 billion. Sure, I’ll hold.”
    Dr. Michael Burry

  • wayne

    Holicity files for IPO
    July 2020
    -25 million units at $10 each; consisting of 1 Share + 1/3 of a Warrant, exercisable at $11.50

  • wayne

    ….then, it gets interesting…..

    SPACs: Shares vs Warrants vs Units
    -how trading strategies work-
    Patrick Desjardins 2020

    – Units, Shares, and Warrants, all carry different risk profiles…..

  • Edward

    From the article: “In an investor presentation filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company projects launching 300 times in 2025, a total nearly three times the number of orbital launches performed worldwide in 2020.

    Although 300 smallsat launches seems like a lot, SpaceX recently launched around 150 smallsats on one launch. There is no lack of smallsats that need launching.

    Some say that SpaceX is drawing customers away from the small launch companies with its dedicated rideshare Transporter missions, but since there are not yet enough small launchers for the current market, this is not the case. Indeed, it could be the other way around, that the smallsat launchers will be better able to target individual companies’s needs than SpaceX can.

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