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SpaceX launches NASA X-ray telescope

Capitalism in space: SpaceX early this morning successfully launched NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE), a small X-ray telescope designed to black holes and neutron stars.

The first stage, making its fifth flight, successfully landed on a drone ship in the Atlantic.

This launch, SpaceX’s 28th for 2021, extends once again the company’s all time record for the most launches in a year by a private company.

The leaders in the 2021 launch race:

46 China
28 SpaceX
21 Russia
6 Europe (Arianespace)
5 Rocket Lab

China’s lead over the U.S, in the national rankings has now shrunk to 46 to 45. The launch was the 121st in 2021, making this year tied as the seventh most active year in the history of space, a ranking that is sure to go up before the end of the year.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


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.


All editions available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors. The ebook can be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner. Note that the price for the ebook, $3.99, goes up to $5.99 on September 1, 2022.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • Ray Van Dune

    I listened to the NASASpaceflight commentary on the launch, and during a wind shear hold, they mentioned that SpaceX has demonstrated all the possible re-use cases for the F9/FH boosters:
    1. Std F9 re-flown as FH side booster
    2. FH side booster re-flown as std F9
    3. FH core booster re-flown as std F9

    FH core booster cannot be replaced by Std F9 booster or by FH side booster, due to special strengthening used in FH core design. In other words, it takes a specially-strengthened booster to handle the center position in the FH! Still a pretty impressive demonstration of manufacturing standardization and resultant use flexibility.

  • Jeff Wright

    This makes me wonder how hard it would be for a five core Falcon superheavy to ease Raptor production woes. Most of the strengthening is done.

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