Scroll down to read this post.


Please consider supporting my work here at 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.


2. Donate through Gabpay, using my email address zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

3. Patreon: Go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation.

4. A Paypal Donation:

4. A Paypal subscription:

5. Donate by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman and mailed to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

ULA rolls Vulcan core first stage to launchpad for tank tests

Capitalism in space: ULA yesterday rolled out a test Vulcan core first stage to its launchpad for a variety of tests in preparation for its first launch, now delayed until next year.

The rocket’s core stage will undergo Pathfinder Tanking Tests (PTT) at Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. It is outfitted with two development BE-4 engines that will be replaced by flight engines before launch. The tanking, or fueling, tests will validate launch pad infrastructure, evaluate countdown procedures, and train the launch team.

That these launchpad tests were delayed until now suggests that ULA had hoped to do them with the flightworthy engines, and then follow-up quickly with Vulcan’s first orbital launch in the fall. With the admission this week by both Blue Origin and ULA that the flightworthy BE-4 engines would not be delivered this summer as promised, ULA probably decided it was better to get this testing done now with the development engines, in order to save prep time for when the flightworthy engines finally arrive.

Thus, the delays at Blue Origin are costing ULA money. Once the flightworthy engines are installed, ULA will still need to do static fire launchpad tests, which means they will have to do much of this test program all over again. The extra countdown rehearsals are of course beneficial, but they are an extra expense, and also require extra time.

ULA’s CEO, Tory Bruno, has tried very hard to streamline ULA’s operations so they are more efficient and thus more competitive. Blue Origin’s failure to deliver on time is making Bruno’s effort very difficult.

It also shows that SpaceX’s policy of building as many of its components in-house, instead of depending on outside contractors, makes sense. And that all of the new rocket companies are doing the same proves that others agree. ULA’s dependence on others for its rocket engines will thus in the long run put it at big competitive disadvantage.

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.


  • Jeff Wright

    I don’t give a rip about Vulcan-it should have been Pyrios. Mr. Bruno needs to clean house.
    Now-I am not a union basher. My Dad was UTU and that’s why I had a house to grow up in. Reagan’ free-trade was of Mammon-not Christ. But I digress-don’t tldr me, bro’

    The Machinist’s Union could have told a positive story about SLS and Delta IV as water burners….pushed for space solar power that would have broad bi-partisan support. Instead, you slime Musk’s good name with China and Trump conspiracy theories that are mutually exclusive. If anything, the only other instance of corporate-labor plots was against Trump as TIME itself admitted. The more I think about this-the less about space and rocketry it becomes.

    At another forum, there is an individual who talked about how Starship might usher in NEW DEFENCE…less costly to taxpayers than today’s man-intensive efforts that lead us into so many quagmires. If there was a less disastrous way out of the Afghan arena-why didn’t Trump use it?

    The answer is that it wasn’t offered. Fauci white-coats chose to mislead Trump on Covid…and the crew-cuts did the same on troop withdrawal with conditions such that we would stay abroad until Sol goes Red Giant…making contractors bank. Thus Biden gave isolationists a bad rap. But if Larry Elder goes cold turkey on rounding up the homeless-saying there is no way to do it but to do it-that may be true here too.

    SLS and Starship have the same enemies in that HLLVs can give us New Defense.
    ULA pushed its own depot plan against Ares V they and Blue attack Musk for now. It was going to take sixteeen D-IVs to go the Moon-remember?
    I don’t think losing to Musk is why the powers that hate Starlink. They hate it because they can’t control it and its potential as Radio Free Internet.

    This was never about rockets any more than shutdowns are about Covid. Control is this is about. And they can’t control Musk. Guys-if you think I am off base in terms of the Afghans-then why was Iran caught taking mines off ships? And shame on you for taking those ULA docs down! VULCAN DELENDA EST!
    ULA must be punished!

  • Jeff Wright

    Shame on NSF for taking the ULA docs down-I mean. Sorry Robert. This ULA deal has me mad as a hornet

  • Dick Eagleson

    With all due respect, Pyrios would have constituted no answer to ULA’s existential challenges any more than will Vulcan. Given that the execrable Michael Gass was still ULA’s CEO during the time when Pyrios might have become a thing, that possibility was foreclosed anyway. ULA will be punished soon enough by Charles Darwin. Tory Bruno’s best efforts notwithstanding, ULA lacks fitness and, thus, will fail to survive. That could happen as soon as next year or as late as 2027, but happen, it will.

    “New Defense” of several sorts will happen. It will start in a big way with Space Force, but I think will metastasize to other parts of DoD. SOCOM has long operated in this fashion and will quickly make common cause with Space Force. The Marines and Army will be next as they have both been historically short-rationed compared to the more glamorous USAF and USN. I think both will soon put together a joint campaign to pry the close air support role away from USAF and USN. USAF will be a tougher nut to crack, but the increasingly probable loss of its close air support role may prove tonic in that regard. The Marine tail will even, over some additional time, wag the Navy dog.

    “New Defense” will not eliminate the need for boots-on-the-ground combat or the possibility of future Vietnam/Afghanistan-like debacles. That requires historical literacy and sound geo-strategic thinking on the part of our national leadership. I am hopeful we will get that – post-Biden & Co. – but it’s not going to be a matter amenable to engineering development or the issuance of RFPs.

    SLS will have no role in any of this as it is irretrievably hyper-expensive and production-limited. Those same characteristics will quickly sideline it as a NASA lunar draft horse too. Its Darwinian fate is as certain as that of ULA. The only real suspense lies in which will go for the long dirt nap first.

    The super-heavy-lifting-to-space part of New Defense will be entirely in Starship’s hands. A fully-reusable New Glenn and Terran-R may play modest supporting roles for lower mass-to-orbit classes of mission.

Readers: the rules for commenting!


No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.


However, name-calling and obscenities will not be tolerated. First time offenders who are new to the site will be warned. Second time offenders or first time offenders who have been here awhile will be suspended for a week. After that, I will ban you. Period.


Note also that first time commenters as well as any comment with more than one link will be placed in moderation for my approval. Be patient, I will get to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *