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SpaceX puts Starship prototype #9 on launchpad

Capitalism in space: Less than two weeks after Starship prototype #9 had fallen off its stand and hit the side of the assembly building, damaging its fins and hull, SpaceX has repaired the damage and moved the prototype to the launchpad in preparation for its test flight, expected sometime in the next three weeks.

The pace that SpaceX operates continues to astound, though in truth it is the right pace. If more American companies (as well as Americans) emulated it, many of the problems the country now faces would vanish.

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. All editions can also be purchased direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets 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.


  • Steve Richter

    in terms of the pace of progress, developing a 95% effective mRNA based covid-2 vaccine in a few weeks time is very impressive. Combine that with of a bunch of new and effective anti viral disease treatments developed in the last year.

  • geoffc

    The mRNA based vaccine, if it truly works (Here is hoping!) is a wonderful break down.

    Getting custom DNA/RNA made is easy these days. Sequencing a virus and understanding some of the larger structures and DNA segments that generate them is straightforward. So figuring out the DNA you need, order it, then turn into a vaccine could become much simpler.

    Which would be wonderful. But with everything, be careful for unintended consequences.

    (Amusingly, Tesla, when they bought Grohman Engineering in Germany, kept the contract with a company that makes RNA printers for this purpose).

  • janyuary

    Considering that after a year of lockdown, only 99.9-something percent of Americans are well and healthy regarding Covid 19, it doesn’t matter WHAT the pace of progress is in what kind of vaccine “they” come up with.

    The only way to achieve a 100 percent success rate in stopping a virus, is to eliminate whatever creature the virus infects. This is a farmer with a pretty spread of 500 acres choosing to destroy the entire crop because one fifth of one acre — less area most average building lots — was tainted.

    It is disheartening to see folks talk of “progress” in developing a vaccine for a virus that arithmetic says is pretty well harmless to far and away the majority of Americans. This arithmetic has been in front of every single person paying attention to this “pandemic” since day one.

  • janyuary

    Ooops excuse me, I think that would be a tenth of one acre, that is one tenth of one percent of 500 acres (I do most of this figuring in my head and I goof!). When one gets to the point of 99.9 percent, numbers after that third nine are beside the point in this application of “stopping the spread.” As long as people continue to discuss the efficacy of masks and how likely it is that “they” will come up with a vaccine, then we will remain on a path swirling right down the sink.

  • janyuary

    Man my math is messed up … I should have said a 100 acres, a tenth of an acre; in 500 acres, it would be a half an acre (unless I messed up my math again!), which is still the size of a postage stamp in the context of 500 acres.

    The point remains ABUNDANTLY OBVIOUS that 99.9 percent will never be GOOD ENOUGH for authorities.
    And no matter how much I screw up the arithmetic, it still ends up being a tiny smattering of our population that this virus has “ravaged,” and the numbers are clear and obvious even if you do the math wrong by a magnitude of FIVE — it is STILL illustrative of how dangerous it is to argue about angels on the head of a pin. Everyone who argues about whether or not social distancing and masks are effective, are fiddling while Rome burns.

  • Questioner

    SpaceX Boca Flyover 12/22/2020, Starship SN9 arrives at the launch site!

  • Lee Stevenson

    This is absolutely stunning work from SpaceX…. Can you imagine the timespan for NASA to recover from a tumbling rocket? Just to decide on the panel for the inquest would take 6 months!
    Regarding Corona virus numbers ( how this is relevent to the thread I have no idea),
    The deaths are rising, the infection rates are rising, the numbers are still not out yet. I am a converted Covid skeptic, and all I can say is the numbers so far seem small, as long as you don’t know anyone encompassed by those statistics. I have never in 50 years known of anyone who has died or even been hospitalised by the regular flu. Unfortunately I know both this year. I’m not saying “lockdowns” are a good idea, but I am saying that social distancing, correctly used masks, an abundance of hygiene, and vaccination should the vaccine prove to be reliable and safe are all a good idea. This thing is not the common cold. It kills.

  • Lee Stevenson

    @Questioner, thanks for the link! Truly a stunning video! Nothing illustrates this dichotomy between SpaceX and NASA as much as the crashed remains of a rocket on the launch/landing pad, with another big shiny rocket waiting to go! ( And as my son said, regarding the “work yard”… “There are bits of rocket every blood where!” Hull sections and nose cones out in the elements just waiting to be taken by fork lift, craned together, then Bill from assembly will bang a few pop rivets in and she’s good to go!
    Words kinda fail me…. No right minded person would have thought any of this was more than a silly dream 20 years ago… Just bloody amazing!

  • Questioner

    Lee Stevenson:

    I agree with them. NASA (especially as a governmental agency) should not do developments projects in the field of space transport technology based on chemical rockets these days (60 years ago was a different situation) and should leave that entirely to industry. NASA is to focus on basic research and the management of government contracts for industry. I like Elon Musk’s development philosophy of fast, iterative prototype construction, even if these vehicles are not perfect at the beginning. That’s exactly to my taste. But nothing teaches more and faster than dealing with reality. SpaceX learns a lot with each prototype. The loss of one or the other prototype doesn’t matter much.

  • janyuary

    Lee: I have never in 50 years known of anyone who has died or even been hospitalised by the regular flu.

    You weren’t paying attention like you are now. The many ugly flu pandemics I experienced in my life, it makes common sense that if it kicked butt among fairly healthy, witnessed first-hand over a period of at least five decades, then it stood to reason that some would be hospitalized (I have known folks hospitalized by flu over the last 50 years) and that weak and elderly would more likely die from it.

    Certain people have allowed themselves to be scared into believing that something is too risky when in fact it is as safe as it was a year ago, two years ago, 20 years ago, 50 years ago, with regard to viruses. People have been frightened into believing in a threat that the arithmetic fails to prove.

    Smart common sense people go where they don’t have to wear masks. I talked with a diesel mechanic who said he had work coming out of his ears. It occurred to me: his clients need him more than he needs them. The smart folks I know personally who’ve seen through this from the beginning have turned out to be a surprising group of mostly working class (read no higher education) folks who know how to build and do things, like electricians, mechanics, fabricators, heavy equipment operators. Without them, all the King Newsoms of this world would cease to operate.

    It is at the point now where hysterical people overcome with fear such that they force it on others while ignoring common sense, have become dangerous, rather than annoying. Sadly … there is nothing for it but ugly dispute, dealing with people overcome with hysteria such that they ignore arithmetic … well, put it this way. Any society that abandons arithmetic even when it assures them that their fear is in vain, is poised to be conquered.

    Most don’t even recognize that it is plain, planted fear that motivates them; they have been so successfully brainwashed that they cannot distinguish between real and bogeymen.

  • Xopher

    @Lee Stevenson
    The COVID19 death numbers are fake. And nobody in my social circle who got infected died or got hospitalized.

    Every single public health official and hospital administrator must be dragged before a military tribunal, and then put before a firing squad for their treason against the real American people and for serving China’s interests.

  • Patrick Underwood

    Xopher: Settle down, man. What you describe is how Stalin would have dealt with the problem.

  • Edward

    Lee Stevenson wrote: “This thing is not the common cold. It kills.

    For the elderly, even the common cold can develop into pneumonia and kill. Sort of like Wuhan flu kills the same demographic.

  • George C

    Not to distract from these discussions of biology; but steel is very easy to work with when it comes to making good repairs and modifications through hammering, drilling, heating, bending, welding, riveting. Even the more typical in aerospace aluminum alloys have a greater tendency to fatigue and fracture compared to steel. And repair of anything made from fiber and resin construction? Not fun. And with those non-steel materials you may very well end up spending weeks in heavy duty mathematical modeling just to gain confidence in the integrity of any repair, and that the entire structure wasn’t compromised during an accident by the more rigid and less malleable and less energy absorbing, less naturally vibration damping material.

  • janyuary

    George C — interesting to think of metal fatigue in space.

    In rocketry, it seems to me that the art of understanding and combining metals to withstand certain kinds of force must be in big and critical demand and the folks who figure it out must be obsessed! Metal in general seems straightforward, yet in sea vessels when wrong metals are put together, bad stuff can happen. That must be about a thousand-fold more true in rocketry. What an incredible amount of cooperation, miracles, must happen to make a rocket fly. I’m cheering SpaceX and they’re sure cheering me in these glum days!

  • David M. Cook

    Dino-space likes to make things very difficult to build, like an isogrid. Take a thick piece of metal and painstakingly carve pockets out of it, making it super-strong, super-light & super-expensive! Mr. Musk knows stringers & longerons on sheet metal is way cheaper and easier to build. That‘s how the Saturn V was made, and it worked fine.

  • I am imagining immediately after the incident, perhaps before the dust had settled, whomever was senior on site said “Let’s get it fixed.” Sure, there was probably the usual human reaction to such an event and for sure an investigation, but I don’t imagine anyone spent a lot of time agonizing over it.

  • wayne


    Khan Noonien Singh
    “It is very cold, in Space.”

  • Lee Stevenson

    @janyuary Lee: I have never in 50 years known of anyone who has died or even been hospitalised by the regular flu.

    janyuary: You weren’t paying attention like you are now.

    1, You are wrong, plain and simple. I tend to take notice when friends and family die or are hospitalised. I have had both having to spend a week or 2 in bed with the regular seasonal flu, but none in the ICU or die, of which I now have had both due to Covid.
    2. I stated that sensible measures, without overkill are a good idea. I commute every day, and the wearing of masks seems like a sensible idea on a crowded bus or train. Not everyone has the luxury of being one of the, quote “Smart common sense people (who) go where they don’t have to wear masks”. I stated that basic hygiene is a good idea, are you suggesting that I have been frightened into washing my hands a little more often?
    The knee jerk reactions of many here who seem to not bother reading my posts before insulting my intelligence is the reason I now only post on space stuff. There is no discussion to be had here, there are only lectures on why I am stupid, blind, and just plain wrong, and that I am just just reading from the song sheet of the left. The really ironic thing is that these lectures are inevitably given by those of you reading from the song sheet of the right.
    @David M. Cook, your comment is correct, but I have no doubt that 3d printing is the future for superlight load bearing components
    I also have no doubt Elon is on the case, and will utilise this tech when the time is right. @George C, I envisage a time when there are racks of 3d printed components ready to go… signs of fatigue, or a strut has flown it’s optimal mileage? Just change it out…

  • janyuary

    wayne — that’s my favorite Khan. Talk about metal fatigue …!

    “In space, no one can hear you scream.”

    (Unless you’re watching “Deep Impact,” in which case it’s: “In space, no one can hear you snore.”)

  • janyuary

    Lee Stevenson, my local paper’s headline screamed today that “Corona Virus Cases are Surging!” in our county, where 2,830 people is equal to slightly less than one percent of the population of 283,111. Over the past year, according to the article, Corona has caused death in 66 people in this county (some of them younger than 70, even!), six are in intensive care, and 44 are in the hospital. In a context where 2,830 is equal to one percent.

    You do the math.

  • wayne

    “It’s Only A Paper Moon”
    Paul Whiteman (Peggy Healy, vocal)

  • Lee Stevenson

    @janyuary… Nice straw man argument. Now is there any chance of addressing the points I made?
    Your whole county has roughly the same population as the suburb of Stockholm I live in. I’m guessing you don’t live in an apartment complex with roughly 300 dwellings, I’m guessing you don’t rub shoulder to shoulder with people every day. Of course transsmition rates are going to be lower, as they would be with measles or the black death, and vulnerable people have it much easier to self isolate in your neck of the woods, which no doubt helps keep the death rate down.
    I can do maths ( we say it correctly with an “s” on the end over here… ) But your case example is simply not relevant. I actually said that the numbers are not in yet, it is too early to make any firm conclusions, but from what I am experiencing in an urban environment tells me this is nothing like the seasonal flu. I am glad your local community is having a relatively easy time of it, but for anyone (including our host) to recommend against sensible caution is just plain wrong.

  • Doubting Thomas

    I salute those who stayed on topic. Very excited to watch SpaceX second flight of Starship.

  • Gary

    In the US, Covid has been used as an excuse to bolster central state government’s control over all aspects of the citizen’s life. Private enterprise and freedoms have negatively and unconstitutionally impacted many of us. One aspect of the economy that has mostly avoided this type of control is private space. As regulation ramps up under Biden, we will see what burden this places on private space projects.

  • janyuary

    Lee, you AVOIDED THE MATH. You pretend that arithmetic is not relevant in the context of assessing risk!
    Just, wow. You illustrate perfectly why the only outcome of this is going to be violent.

    I spent 25 years living and working elbow to elbow almost in the thick of 12 million people within a radius of about 25, 30 miles.

    You have been scared into believing something that is as safe now as it ever was — it was NEVER safe — is too risky now. Well Lee, when you’re responsible for your own fear that’s one thing, but C19 believers want me to be responsible for their fear and health.

    See, non-answers, avoidance of reality, on the part of credulous, gullible people who believe without question what they are told by “experts,” has gotten to critical mass. Sensible people understand that fear is a tool of war and that mask/social distancing/lockdown is a battle for liberty. Non-sensible people are still pretending that arithmetic lies but doctors with vested professional, financial, and political interests, don’t.

  • janyuary

    My community, according to its newspaper, is in a spot where cases are “soaring,” and you’re glad for me that I’m in a place where we’re having a “relatively easy time of it”??????

    You are having a relatively easy time of it and you have all along, you just have been fooled into believing in a bogeyman.

  • Lee Stevenson

    @janyuary, your rhetoric is getting boring now… I have been frightened into nothing, I misstrust the main stream media deeply, I also refuse to apply any world wide mathematics to a report from your local newspaper, and neither should you.
    I am pleased you never had to spend your time working in a crowded environment during a pandemic, if you had I’m sure your opinion would be different, but hey?
    I’m getting bored of being accused on here of being frightened, ( along with everything else I’m accused of… See my previous post..) , I am a sceptic , and my politics are left wing. As a sceptic I throw a sceptical eye over everything thrown at me as “fact”, and the “fact” is that the.numbers are not in yet… But from my boots on the ground experience ( which means nothing statisticaly ) I think an abundance of caution is a good idea right now.
    I genuinely do not understand why I keep being accused of being brainwashed, terrorised, or otherwise subjugated into my current mindset? I also do not understand how a resident of Hicksville USA can project the figures of his tiny fraction of the globe into world wide figures… Unless it was reported in the local press…..

  • Lee Stevenson

    And just noticed you comment whilst checking my own for typos… Quote.”You illustrate perfectly why the only outcome of this is going to be violent.”
    1, that’s a not so veiled threat. 2, if not directly directed at me, it sure shows a refusal for discussion, and a preference for violence.
    When did advising good practice regarding limiting the spread of a virus become worthy of a threat of violence??? I suggest you wind you neck in a little. Oh, and merry Xmas!!

  • Edward

    George C wrote: “And with those non-steel materials you may very well end up spending weeks in heavy duty mathematical modeling just to gain confidence in the integrity of any repair, and that the entire structure wasn’t compromised during an accident by the more rigid and less malleable and less energy absorbing, less naturally vibration damping material.

    The fins are attached to the body at hardpoints that are capable of withstanding the forces that the aerodynamics places on the fins, so there may have been surprisingly little damage to the test article’s body.

  • Questioner

    Starship | SN8 | High-Altitude Flight Recap

    “On December 9, 2020, Starship serial number 8 (SN8) completed a high-altitude flight test as it successfully ascended, transitioned propellant, and demonstrated a first-of-its-kind controlled aerodynamic descent and landing flip maneuver – which will enable landing where prepared surfaces or runways do not exist, including the Moon, Mars, and beyond.”

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