Capitalism in space: In what will likely be its last launch in 2021, SpaceX early this morning successfully launched a reused Dragon cargo capsule to ISS.
This was the company’s 31st launch in 2021, extending its record for the most launches in a single year by a private company. The launch’s big news however was that the company used a new first stage booster, only the second time in 2021 that it needed to do so (the first was in May). The first stage successfully landed on the drone ship in the Atlantic, completing SpaceX’s 100th successful recovery.
The first such vertical landing had occurred in December 2015, and now six years later and after a hundred vertical landings, SpaceX remains the only orbital rocket entity in the world with such a capability. A very small handful of companies have performed tests with smaller scale prototypes, but that so much time has passed and no one has pushed forward to meet SpaceX’s challenge with even some full scale preliminary test flights does not reflect well on the innovative culture of the world’s rocket industry.
As for SpaceX’s yearly record, 31 launches actually exceeds the number of launches the entire U.S. rocket industry generally managed each year from 1970 through 2017. During much of that time the launch industry was run by NASA in a Soviet-style top-down system that stifled competition and innovation. Beginning in 2008, when SpaceX won its first contract with NASA, that system was abandoned by NASA, switching instead to capitalism and competition, whereby NASA was merely a customer buying its launches from the open market. The positive results from that change have been breath-taking, proving once again that freedom, competition, and private enterprise will win every single time over government programs and communist/socialist ideology.
The leaders in the 2021 launch race:
6 Europe (Arianespace)
5 Rocket Lab
The U.S. and China are now tied 48 to 48 in the national rankings. This was the 127th launch in 2021, tying it with 1976 for the second most successful year in rocketry in the history of space exploration. With five more announced launches on the schedule, there is a chance that this year could tie the record year, 132 in 1975.
I must unfortunately ask you for your financial support because I do not depend on ads and rely entirely on the generosity of readers to keep Behind the Black running. You can either make a one time donation for whatever amount you wish, or you sign up for a monthly subscription ranging from $2 to $15 through Paypal or $3 to $50 through Patreon.
Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.
Your support is even more essential to me because I not only keep this site free from advertisements, I do not use the corrupt social media companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook to promote my work. I depend wholly on the direct support of my readers.
You can provide that support to Behind The Black with a contribution via Patreon or PayPal. To use Patreon, go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation. For PayPal click one of the following buttons:
If Patreon or Paypal don't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
Cortaro, AZ 85652
Or you can donate by using Zelle through your bank. You will need to give my name and email address (found at the bottom of the "About" page). The best part of this electronic option is that no fees will be deducted! What you donate will be what I receive.