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.


Starship update: Prototype #11 could fly tomorrow

Capitalism in space: According to this Starship update, the 11th Starship prototype is scheduled for its static fire dress rehearsal countdown today, with the possibility of its first flight as early as tomorrow.

This paragraph about SpaceX’s overall Starship program however is more significant:

Following SN11’s flight, SpaceX will move on to SN15, 16, and 17, alongside testing with Super Heavy prototypes BN1 and BN2, before shooting for an orbital launch with SN20 and BN3. In typical SpaceX-style, that orbital launch has an astonishing – and unlikely – “by July 1” target. At the very least, this target portrays SpaceX’s Starship drive to push the vehicle into operation.

The reason they are going directly from prototype #11 to #15 is because they scrapped #s 12, 13, and 14 after the flights of #9 and #10. They had learned enough, and those scrapped prototypes would not have taught them anything. Instead, they incorporated the learned changes to #15 and will fly that next.

The July 1st launch date is certainly overly optimistic. It also signals the company’s determination to try to get that first orbital flight off this year. Based on their pace, it would be foolish to dismiss this as a possibility.

It also signals what I think is an internal unstated goal within SpaceX to have Starship beat SLS into orbit. Nor would anyone be wise to consider that impossible. In fact, I consider it quite likely.

Readers!
 

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10 comments

  • Bob L.

    Looks like the static fire aborted. Don’t know what the issue is. Anyway, testing is done for today.

  • eddie willers

    For first orbit attempt, they could cram a lot of Starlink satellites into a Starship.

  • Ray Van Dune

    They are going to have to demonstrate the accuracy of descent from orbital speed and altitude, not just straight down from 100 km or so. Might make sense to try a “soft” landing over open water, like they did with early F9s, just to allow lots of room for unplanned deviations. The size of the landing pad they are using now is pretty damn small for a massive vehicle coming in a hypersonic speeds for the first time, especially with enough propellants on board to land gently (or not). That could make anyone around Boca Chica feel like they are playing goalie on the howitzer team!

  • Andi

    More like playing goalie AGAINST the howitzer team! :)

  • Jeff Wright

    It may get tanker Starship to orbit…but it has no maw and thus it is best described as an agile second stage. SLS will likely be first to put a true payload not just in LEO but BEO.
    And I am sure the hard workers behind it will just get heaps of praise and love and thanks for their efforts by classy New Spacers. Cough

  • Dick Eagleson

    SLS first has to have a successful core stage hot fire test. Even if the 2nd try is a success, the odds of getting the Artemis 1 mission launched this year are likely no better than 1 in 10. Any additional hot fire test hiccup forecloses that possibility entirely. Then it would just be a matter of how far into 2022 the mission might slip.

    Putting a Starship in orbit by July 1 would be borderline miraculous as that is only 15 weeks hence. So let’s double that to 30 weeks. That date would still fall before Halloween. An initial orbital foray by Starship sometime this year looks far likelier than not to occur.

  • Jeff Wright

    Super-Heavy can still be a national asset even if Starship exists only as an expended rump second stage. Now folks want to kill the SLS hydrogen upper stage-idiots! I want that atop Musk’s big rockets too. MAF took a tornado hit not that long ago and tomorrow looks to be another bad weather day. Can never catch a break.

  • Edward

    Ray Van Dune suggested: “They are going to have to demonstrate the accuracy of descent from orbital speed and altitude, not just straight down from 100 km or so. Might make sense to try a “soft” landing over open water, like they did with early F9s, just to allow lots of room for unplanned deviations.

    Landing in the ocean may make sense, but I suspect that SpaceX will want to examine their thermal tiles and will try a landing on their landing pad, even with their first reentry. They may initially aim for the ocean but then redirect the test spacecraft to the landing pad if everything seems to be going well, if there are no serious unplanned deviations. They do something similar to this with their Falcon boosters, which is why a couple of them have crashed into the ocean near their autonomous drone ships, when engines failed to work properly.

    From the article:
    Notably, the information seen by NASASpaceflight – and always subject to change – also adds a fascinating note about the first orbital flight, which is cited as involving Super Heavy BN3 and Starship SN20, “with a goal to get to orbit by July 1”.
    Robert wrote: “The July 1st launch date is certainly overly optimistic. It also signals the company’s determination to try to get that first orbital flight off this year. Based on their pace, it would be foolish to dismiss this as a possibility.

    The July 1 goal is almost certainly a stretch goal, probably depending on things continuing to go better than planned. It isn’t even clear whether the Orbital Launch Pad will be ready by then.

    Setting such a stretch goal makes sense. SpaceX has a lot of development work to do and much learning to do in order to take their first passengers around the Moon in 2023. Once they can get to orbit and back safely, they still have to develop operational capabilities. Thirty-three months is not a lot of time to do all that. The sooner they can begin orbital experimentation, the better off they are, so it would be nice for them to be able to make the July 1 goal.
    As the article says:

    At the very least, this target portrays SpaceX’s Starship drive to push the vehicle into operation.

    As Robert noted, their success with SN8, getting it past the pitch-over at apogee, and the repeated success on SN9 have made three additional test units obsolete, allowing them to proceed to the next major iteration and test phase a couple of months earlier than originally expected. If they continue being successful, learning faster than planned, they may be able to make their optimistic 2023 date.

    One of the biggest advantages to this kind of rapid development is that the company should be able to start revenue operations in a short amount of time, while simultaneously spending less on its army of employees. As we have seen, SpaceX has designed-in rapid maintenance capabilities, which should also save huge amounts of development time and money.

    This corporate culture of rapid development is one of the reasons why so many people are SpaceX fans. That it is being done so visibly to the public is another reason. It seems fairly similar to Scaled Composites’s SpaceShipOne, which was developed quickly and drew great attention. It is in contrast to New Shepard and SpaceShipTwo, which drew attention early on but are less impressive now, since they have been in development for so long with failed promises of impending operations. Many people have stopped being as interested in the news coming out of Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic in favor of the rapid pace of news coming from SpaceX.

  • One thing about that first orbital flight: SpaceX doesn’t have to come back to Boca Chica. Remember, the company now owns two oil platforms it is refurbishing as launch/landing platforms. Wanna bet one will be prepped and ready for those first orbital flights, and that the spacecraft will come down aimed at that?

    In other words, do these orbital returns just like their first Falcon 9 landing attempts, safely away from populated areas out at sea.

  • Edward

    There I was, praising SpaceX’s rapid development culture, yet assuming that neither platform would be ready and available in time for the first orbital launch.

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