My annual February birthday month fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black is now over. It was the best February campaign ever, and the second best of all of my month-long fund-raising campaigns.


There were too many people who contributed to thank you all personally. If I did so I would not have time for the next day or so to actually do any further posts, and I suspect my supporters would prefer me posting on space and culture over getting individual thank you notes.


Let this public thank suffice. I say this often, but I must tell you all that you cannot imagine how much your support means to me. I’ve spent my life fighting a culture hostile to my perspective, a hostility that has often served to squelch my success. Your donations have now allowed me to bypass that hostility to reach a large audience.


Even though the February campaign is over, if you still wish to donate or subscribe you still can do so. Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If Paypal doesn'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
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SpaceX successfully launches 60 more Starlink satellites

Capitalism in space: SpaceX today successfully launched 60 more Starlink satellites.

The launch was significant in several ways. They reused the first stage for the fourth time, landing it successfully. They reused the fairing for the second time.

And with this launch, the Falcon 9 has now flown more than the Atlas 5, and has the most launches of any active American rocket.

This flight marks a major point in U.S. launch operations, as Falcon 9 reaches 84 flights to its name and officially takes the mantle from Atlas V as the most flown, currently operational U.S. rocket.

Atlas V began flying on 21 August 2002 and has 83 flights to its name after 18 years — for an annual rate of 4.6 launches. Falcon 9 began flying on 4 June 2010 and will reach 84 flights in just under 10 years with a flight rate of 8.4 launches per year.

That SpaceX overtook the Atlas 5 so quickly indicates exactly how successful SpaceX has been in grabbing market share from all its launch competitors.

I have embedded the video of the launch below the fold.

The leaders in the 2020 launch race:

6 China
6 SpaceX
5 Russia

The U.S. now leads China 10 to 6 in the national rankings.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit.


  • Phill O

    It just gets worse for astronomers.

  • Alberticus

    Shoot them down. They are polluting the skies.

  • sippin_bourbon

    I wonder if software could be used to filter out the Starlink reflections based on their known positions, thus clearing up the pics.

    Would not help amateur astronomers like me, but, I also do not try to observe stuff until later at night, when any satellites , if in my field of view, would be in the planet’s shadow, and thus not be visible.

    I am not as upset about this.

    Astronomers are always fighting advances. They hate street lights. They hate low flying aircraft. I get it.

  • Ray Van Dune

    When we have hundreds of a large starships in LEO, ground-based astronomy is going to have a huge problem to cope with, whether they are sunlit or not. One solution might be to require everything in such a “fleet” to be in an equatorial orbit (as geosynchronous sats already are) that could be avoided by ground-based astronomers. Each observatory would have a known band of declinations that would be unusable because of interference. Of course, equatorial orbits require significant additional energy to attain for launch sites more than a few degrees from the equator.

  • sippin_bourbon

    When we reach the point where we have that many spacecraft in orbit, I hope we have many more space or lunar based observatories.

  • talgus

    killing the long duration earthbound astronomy. what happens when no one can even launch without avoiding this cluster net of satellites. all for earth-everywhere internet??

  • Chris

    I guess Wayne isn’t looking at this link….

  • sippin bourbon

    Chris bad link

  • eddie willers

    Space is very large.

  • sippin_bourbon

    Talgus. That’s the issue to which I was referring. Using software to remove the starlink reflections. We know when and where the satellite s will be.

  • Rose

    @sippin bourbon: Chris bad link

    Ha! Looks like an autocorrect error in the url. Should have been:

  • Max

    Within 10 years of the deployment of the satellites, assuming the virus doesn’t wipe out all life on earth, we will have large mirror telescopes in orbit and around the far side of the moon for Parallax depth and better detail.
    After the establishment of a lunar base and manufacturing, lenses the size of houses will be pushed out of orbit to be placed behind large rocks in the astroid belt and above/below the solar plane.
    With radar, it will not only give early warning detection of oncoming comets, but give detailed view of planets around other stars. The universe itself will be maped in exquisite detail.
    In a few years, astronomers will be able to do their work from their home computer linked to thousands of telescopes mounted across the surface of the moon.

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