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On February 5, 2023 I will celebrate my 70th birthday. Yay! As I do every year during this birthday month, I run a campaign to raise money to support my work here at Behind The Black. I do not run ads. My only support comes from my readers, which leaves me utterly free to speak my mind openly about space, culture, and politics. Please consider supporting me in this work by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, in any one of the following ways:


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.


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SpaceX launches spy satellite using new first stage

Capitalism in space: SpaceX today successfully launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base a National Reconnaissance Office spy satellite .

What made this launch unusual was that it used a new first stage, only the third time SpaceX has done so since the beginning of 2020. Last year, of 31 launches all but two used a used first stage. This new first stage landed successfully at Vandenberg.

5 SpaceX
2 China
1 Virgin Orbit

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 are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also 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.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • geoffc

    They mentioned on the webcast that this booster will be used next for another NROL launch. Wonder if they are ‘booking’ a fleet of their own, for their own launches. Not sure what that would add or help, but whatever.

    Bet SpaceX would paint it a custom colour if they asked for it as well.

  • Diane E Wilson

    Starlink launch today at 6:11 pm (Eastern). This will be the first ever back-to-back launches in one day, for the US. (Russians have done this three times, back in Soviet days.)

  • pawn

    Makes me wonder what’s going on in Hawthorne. Lots of Raptor parts in the pipeline I’m sure.

  • Ray Van Dune

    I think the Starlink launch has been pushed back a day, Diane. Would have been cool, though!

  • Mike Borgelt

    OT but I’m not seeing much on the space sites about the discovery of a 1 km wide asteroid at L4. This is potentially huge.

  • Richard M

    The Starlink 4-7 launch has indeed been kicked back to tomorrow (Feb 3) afternoon – at 1813 GMT, looks like.

  • Jeff Wright

    Mike you are quite right. I hope it is a nickle iron. Perfect for JASON OF STAR COMMAND!

  • pzatchok

    If Space X is really going to Mars or even the Moon they will have to manufacture all the environmental support systems they will ever need.

    I bet they at least have everything on paper. No final designs but good ideas being worked out.

    They might do what almost all other companies have done and just buy out a smaller company that can do it already.

  • pzatchok

    Sorry wrong thread

  • Diane E Wilson: back in the Gemini program, on more than one occasion US launched Atlas/Agena followed 90 min later by Titan/Gemini. So it’s been done before.

    Still, kudos to SpaceX for rapid response!

  • Richard M

    If SpaceX can get the Starlink launch off today, it will still be 3 launches over 4 days, which is still mighty impressive by any existing standard.

  • Col Beausabre

    Some (many?) astronomers have declared war on SpaceX and Musk

    Comments online are almost universally anti-Musk (mainly objecting that his wealth allows him to do as he wants in space. Envy, much, people?)

    Of course, there’s the obvious solution staring them in the face – astronomy needs to go to space. Yes, it will be disruptive and will render most ground based observatories obsolete museum pieces, but that’s the cost of progress. Sorry if it disrupts your nice comfortable life – but that’s the Tech Paradigm, “Move fast and break things” Why should you be any better than thousands upon thousands of other people (brick and mortar stores, for example) whose lives have been disrupted by tech innovation?

  • Col Beausabre: You remind me that I need to cover this effort by astronomers to use force and government to continue to live in the past. I will likely post today.

  • Col Beausabre

    And Lex Luthor ain’t doin’ much better

    Of course, how many people earned their pay checks from building the big floaty thing seems to be ignored. It’s also a bit odd that there’s no anger at the shipyard that bid on the contract knowing it wouldn’t fit under the bridge. It seems the ship builder thought they could steam roll the local people and government – wrongo, Buffalo Breath!

    There is an obvious solution. Bezos gets his mega-yacht and it stays in Rotterdam. He can stay on board any time he visits that lovely city.

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