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I am now in the second week of my July fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black, celebrating its 14th anniversary. Thank you to everyone that donated so generously last week. I hope week two will do as well.


Your donations and subscriptions have allowed me the freedom and ability to analyze objectively the ongoing renaissance in space, as well as the cultural changes -- for good or ill -- that are happening across America. Four years ago, just before the 2020 election I wrote that Joe Biden's mental health was suspect. Only in the past two weeks has the mainstream media decided to recognize that basic fact.


Fourteen years ago I wrote that SLS and Orion were a bad ideas, a waste of money, would be years behind schedule, and better replaced by commercial private enterprise. Even today NASA and Congress refuses to recognize this reality.


In 2020 when the world panicked over COVID I wrote that the panic was unnecessary, that the virus was apparently simply a variation of the flu, that masks were not simply pointless but if worn incorrectly were a health threat, that the lockdowns were a disaster and did nothing to stop the spread of COVID. Only in the past year have some of our so-called experts in the health field have begun to recognize these facts.


Your help allows me to do this kind of intelligent analysis. I take no advertising or sponsors, so my reporting isn't influenced by donations by established space or drug companies. Instead, I rely entirely on donations and subscriptions from my readers, which gives me the freedom to write what I think, unencumbered by outside influences.


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Space Force names SpaceX, ULA, and Blue Origin as its launch providers for the next five years

As part of the military’s program for issuing launch contracts, the Space Force yesterday announced that it has chosen SpaceX, ULA, and Blue Origin as its launch providers, allowing them to bid on $5.6 billion worth of planned launched over the next five years.

The NSSL Phase 3 program was structured into two “lanes.” Lane 1 is for less demanding launches to low Earth orbit, while Lane 2 is reserved for heavy lift rockets capable of delivering payloads to nine reference orbits, including some of the most demanding national security missions.

The selection of Blue Origin, SpaceX, and ULA for Lane 1 contracts confirms that no other launch providers met the criteria. Seven bids were submitted, according to the DoD announcement.

The Space Force apparently rejected the other four unnamed companies because they “are still maturing their launch capabilities.” It will allow them to re-submit applications next year, and could approve others for bidding at that time, which is a major change from past policy. Previously the military would name approved companies, but not reconsider others for years, a policy that limited its options and reduced competition. Now it appears it will be doing so frequently, possibly every year, in order to regularly increase the number of companies that can bid on military contracts.

This change is excellent news for the American launch industry, as it means the Pentagon has finally ended its long standing launch policy that played favorites.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.


The print edition can be purchased at Amazon. Or you can buy it directly from the author and get an autographed copy.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • Ray Van Dune

    The rockets of ULA and Blue Origin are both as yet uncertified and powered exclusively by the BE-4 engine, which is yet to be producible at a serious production rate.

    But I’m sure everything will be just fine, so the Biden administration can continue impeding the efforts of the only company with an actual high-rate, high-capacity, high-reliability launch capability.

  • pzatchok

    Ray, don’t let the secret out!!!

  • David M. Cook

    Robert, I think these 3 companies should be in “Lane 2”, not “Lane 1”. Or am I missing something?

  • David M. Cook: I think the article is poorly written. SpaceX and ULA can definitely bid on Lane 1 payloads, using the Falcon 9 and simpler/smaller versions of Vulcan. All three can bid on Lane 2, using Falcon Heavy, larger versions of Vulcan, and New Glenn.

Readers: the rules for commenting!


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