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My February birthday fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black it now over. I sincerely and with deep gratitude thank all those who donated. Without your support I could not keep doing this, not so much because of the need for income to pay the bills, but because it tells me that there are people out there who want me to do this work. For those who did not contribute during the campaign, please consider adding your vote of support to Behind the Black, 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 successfully launches Ispace’s Hakuto-R private mission to Moon

Lunar map showing Hakuto-R's landing spot
Hakuto-R’s planned landing site is in Atlas Crater.

Using its Falcon 9 rocket, SpaceX tonight successfully launched Ispace’s Hakuto-R lunar lander, the first private mission attempting to softly land on the Moon.

The Falcon 9 first stage completed its fifth flight, landing successfully at Cape Canaveral.

Hakuto-R, which is actually the first of two missions, carries seven payloads, including two small rovers, Rashid, which is the United Arab Emirates first lunar mission, and a smaller rover built by Ispace. Both will operate for about a week, one lunar day. Hakuto-R will land on the Moon in April, 2023.

A second payload is a cubesat from JPL, called Lunar Flashlight. It will go into lunar orbit, testing new fuel technologies while also attempting to identify water in the permanently shadowed craters at the lunar south pole.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

57 China
56 SpaceX
21 Russia
9 Rocket Lab

The U.S. now leads China 80 to 57 in the national rankings, but trails the entire world combined 87 to 80.

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.


  • Milt

    Speaking of going back to the moon…

    Check out
    — and what might be the ultimate Christmas gift for anyone whose interest lies along these lines.

    50 years on and 400 (out of 35,000) images. Thank you, Mr. Saunders. and all of the people who made this possible.

  • Ray Van Dune

    “Both will operate for about a week, one lunar day.”

    A Lunar day is the same length as a Lunar month, roughly 28 Earth days or four Earth weeks. If one uses “Lunar day” to mean sunrise to sunset as is often done, that is still two weeks, not one. It may well be that the rovers will operate during the peak sunlit hours of a Lunar day, which might be considered about a week.

    Perhaps “Both will operate for about a week, the most brightly illuminated portion of one lunar day.”?

  • wayne

    good stuff!

  • geoffc

    How are we doing on total launches for the year, compared to history? 167 is pretty high, right?

  • Edward

    The fourth figure of this annual report should answer your question (successful orbital launches worldwide, 1957 to 2021):

  • Ray Van Dune: Yes, both will work during the warmest week of the daylight part of the lunar day.

  • Ray Van Dune

    I have heard of recent statements by NASA Administrator Bill Nelson that SpaceX intends to land a crew on the Moon in late 2024. I have also heard such statements from Elon Musk, who admitted that they were “aspirational”.

    Bill Nelson’s statement seems to tacitly acknowledge that Artemis cannot take us back to the Moon until late in this decade, even with SpaceX landing technology, and so any landing earlier is going to be an all-SpaceX show. Probably no Lunar Gateway, or what pieces are available lofted by Falcon Heavy.

    This is great news if true, because I fear the Chinese putting together a crash program to beat the US back to the Moon, using Apollo-vintage technology to just get a set of boots on the ground, akin to the final Soviet plans using N-1.

  • Ian C.

    “the first private mission attempting to softly land on the Moon.”

    The first that tried it was SpaceIL from Israel in 2019. They crashed. But that wasn’t intentional.

  • Darwin Teague

    Has Elon Musk’s focus on Twitter caused him to neglect SpaceX?

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