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I am now running my annual July fund-raising campaign to celebrate the twelfth anniversary of the establishment of Behind the Black. For many reasons, mostly political but partly ethical, I do not use Google, Facebook, Twitter. These companies practice corrupt business policies, while targeting conservative websites for censoring, facts repeatedly confirmed by news stories and by my sense that Facebook has taken action to prevent my readers from recommending Behind the Black to their friends.


Thus, I must have your direct support to keep this webpage alive. Not only does the money pay the bills, it gives me the freedom to speak honestly about science and culture, instead of being forced to write it as others demand.


Please consider donating by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below.


Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

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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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You can also support me by buying one of my books, as noted in the boxes interspersed throughout the webpage or shown in the menu above. And if you buy the books through the ebookit links, I get a larger cut and I get it sooner.

Starship #9 update: 1st flight targeted for shortly after the new year

Capitalism in space: According to this nasaspaceflight update, the first 10-mile-plus flight of the ninth Starship prototype is now targeted for shortly after January 1st.

Starship SN9 has been undergoing integration ops on the launch mount over the Christmas holiday, setting the stage for what will be a streamlined pre-launch test series when compared to that undertaken by SN8.

The first test will involve filling the vehicle with nitrogen, usually in a two-step fashion. Initially, the vehicle will be filled with gaseous nitrogen – called the ambient test, ahead of being loaded with super-cold liquid nitrogen (LN2) for the cryo test. This test sequence is expected early in the coming week, with preparations for testing already ongoing on Monday morning.

Providing all goes to plan with the proofing test, SN9 will be prepared for what is currently expected to be one Static Fire test involving all three Raptors. This is an expedited test schedule compared to SN8, which underwent several Static Fire tests ahead of launch. Two of SN9’s Raptors were installed on the vehicle inside the High Bay. Once the vehicle had made it to the pad, a third engine – SN49 – was installed, completing the trio.

Only after these tests have been completed will a launch date become known, likely via a notice to local air and sea traffic. This, in turn, will be pending acceptable weather conditions and vehicle preparedness going into prop loading tasks. Based on the best-case scenario test flow, the launch could realistically occur within January’s first two weeks.

The goal on this flight likely be will be twofold. First, to reaffirm the engineering and software for controlling the stage during its return to Earth. Second, to complete a successful landing, to prove they have corrected the pressure issue that caused the landing failure during Starship prototype #8’s flight.

The article also gives an update on the many additional Starship prototypes being readied for flight, along with the first Super Heavy prototype. It is expected that Super Heavy will make its first short 500 foot hop sometime in ’21.

Conscious Choice cover

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.


Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

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