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I am now running my annual July fund-raising campaign to celebrate the twelfth anniversary of the establishment of Behind the Black. For many reasons, mostly political but partly ethical, I do not use Google, Facebook, Twitter. These companies practice corrupt business policies, while targeting conservative websites for censoring, facts repeatedly confirmed by news stories and by my sense that Facebook has taken action to prevent my readers from recommending Behind the Black to their friends.


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SpaceX announces it will build its Big Falcon Rocket in Los Angeles

Capitalism in space: SpaceX has confirmed that it will build its Big Falcon Rocket in the facility it has leased in the port of Los Angeles.

Looking at the string of stories I have just posted on Behind the Black, all describing the space plans of Rocket Lab, Stratolaunch, Orbital ATK, SpaceX, China, and the UAE, all aimed at taking off in the early 2020s, it seems the next decade will be a wild ride for space geeks.

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.


  • Mordineus

    Can you tell me what influenced them to build this in Los Angeles when both of their launch sites (Cape Canaveral, FL & Boca Chica, TX) are on the other side of the Panama Canal?

  • Mordineus: You ask a very very good question. One reason may simply be that, because of California’s fascist politics, land values have dropped, and Musk could get a good deal. As long as the facility is on the ocean they can more easily ship the spacecraft anywhere by water.

    It could also be that because SpaceX is based in California, the company feels compelled to brown-nose California politicians or risk more trouble from them. Putting the facility in LA gives the company clout with these power-hungry politicians.

  • David

    From discussion I’ve seen elsewhere, it has mostly to do with the employee base in Torrance that would be hard to move or duplicate.

  • Edward

    David wrote: “From discussion I’ve seen elsewhere, it has mostly to do with the employee base in Torrance that would be hard to move or duplicate.

    Maybe, but the Florida Space Coast lost a lot of jobs with the loss of the Space Shuttle. Those people would be a good fit for building rockets and satellites, as other companies determined when they chose to build manufacturing facilities there. There are experienced and talented people working at facilities along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, too. However, the Los Angeles/Mojave region has been a locus of aerospace companies for about a century, so there is plenty of experience and talent there, too. There are plenty of places from which to choose in order to get a good employee base.

    So, what does it cost to move a rocket from Los Angeles (assembly) to McGregor, Texas (test) to Kennedy/Vandenberg/Boca Chica (launch)? My point being that any SpaceX rocket will have to move around anyway, so assembly plant location may not be driven by a need to reduce transportation; other factors can easily overwhelm the transportation factor.

  • Matt in AZ

    SpaceX does have a launch site at Vandenberg as well, though I doubt they would want to jump through all of the government hurdles to build and operate facilities for the BFR there. Also, it’s not an ideal site for most LEO orbits. Recalling some of their concept imagery, they might be looking at ocean-based platforms for launching.

    Would launches to the moon or beyond from a more polar direction be particularly detrimental?

  • Edward

    Matt in AZ asked: “Would launches to the moon or beyond from a more polar direction be particularly detrimental?

    You would likely lose the 8 km per second velocity advantage that you get by launching into the plane of the destination.

  • Localfluff

    @Edward, the rotational speed of Earth is 420 meters per second at the equator (about 350 m/s in California). That’s the small bonus that a polar launch looses. It requires 10 km/s to reach orbit, so it is a 3½% loss of velocity (and a larger loss in payload/fuel).

    Insight will be launched to Mars from Vandenberg. They have margins for the polar launch and prefer it because it is less busy than Florida, less risk of delays.

  • wayne

    Ref: InSight…

    “InSight: Digging Deep into Mars”
    JPL news briefing, March 29, 2018

  • Tom Billings

    Local said:

    ” It requires 10 km/s to reach orbit, so it is a 3½% loss of velocity (and a larger loss in payload/fuel).”

    To give an idea how *much* loss in payload just to LEO, a TitanIII could put about 14,000 kilos in polar orbit, but could have launched straight East from KSC and put about 20,000 kilos into lower inclination orbits.

  • Edward

    Localfluff wrote: “the rotational speed of Earth is 420 meters per second at the equator

    But the Moon orbits the Earth at about 1 km per second, so somehow you have to gain that much velocity. Plus, in changing orbital planes from an Earth polar to the lunar orbit plane will take about twice the speed that the spacecraft is travelling (twice the sine of the angle between the planes), so that means 2 km per second of delta V.

    Being in the correct orbital plane at the time of orbital transfer (when entering Earth orbit) can be very important, otherwise you have to change planes at a cost of delta V, fuel, and payload weight.

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