Scroll down to read this post.


My July fund-raising campaign, celebrating the 13th anniversary of the start of this website, has now ended. This was the second most successful monthly fund-raising campaign ever. Thank you again to everyone who has who donated or subscribed. It is difficult to explain what your support means to me.


You can still donate or subscribe to support my work if you wish, either by giving a one-time contribution or a regular subscription. There are four ways of doing so:


1. Zelle: This is the only internet method that charges no fees. All you have to do is use the Zelle link at your internet bank and give my name and email address (zimmerman at nasw dot org). What you donate is what I get.


2. Patreon: Go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation.

3. A Paypal Donation:

4. A Paypal subscription:

5. Donate by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman and mailed to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

SpaceX confirms Starship prototype to fly on next Superheavy test flight

SpaceX has confirmed that it will use Starship prototype #25 to fly on top of Superheavy prototype #9 on the next orbital test flight.

Starship #25 does not include a lot of the upgrades that have been installed on later Starship prototypes, but by using it SpaceX tells us its focus on that next orbital test flight will be to test Superheavy. Using this less capable Starship gets it used and out of the way so that the kinks in Superheavy can more quickly be worked out.

It also means SpaceX’s prime focus on that second flight will not be reaching orbit, though the company will try nonetheless.

The article at the link also notes that this next orbital test cannot take place any sooner than August, based simply on engineering requirements.

Ship 25 is now at the launch site and awaiting a six-engine static fire test, with Elon Musk noting the pad modifications should be complete in a month, ahead of another month of testing before the next test flight.

This gives the FAA two full months to approve the launch license. I predict however that come August, that launch license will still not be approved, and we will still have no clear idea of when that approval will come. Nor should we be surprised if approval does not come before the end of this year.

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 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


  • MDN

    I expect the primary objective for ship 25 should it achieve orbit is to test and assess the ceramic tile thermal protection system upon reentry and little more. This is the one significant Uhgknown still facing SpaceX because it is impossible to test this technology at scale in the lab, you need to orbit a full scale vehicle to really test it out. You can’t achieve full, much less Elon’s ambitious rapid, reusability if this doesn’t work and I expect ship 25 is as good as any for this purpose.

  • Jeff Wright

    SuperHeavy could still have utility even if Starship lags in recovery.

    Wilson should get the rights to do a simplified SLS just as an upper stage atop SuperHeavy.

Readers: the rules for commenting!


No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.


However, name-calling and obscenities will not be tolerated. First time offenders who are new to the site will be warned. Second time offenders or first time offenders who have been here awhile will be suspended for a week. After that, I will ban you. Period.


Note also that first time commenters as well as any comment with more than one link will be placed in moderation for my approval. Be patient, I will get to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *