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.


ULA to no longer sell Atlas-5 launches

Capitalism in space: In an interview ULA’s CEO Tory Bruno has announced that they have contracts on all of the company’s remaining Atlas-5 rockets, and will no longer be offering that rocket for new sales.

“We’re done. They’re all sold,” CEO Tory Bruno said of ULA’s Atlas V rockets in an interview. ULA, a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, has 29 Atlas V missions left before it retires sometime in the mid-2020s and transitions to its upcoming Vulcan rocket, Bruno said. The remaining Atlas V missions include a mix of undisclosed commercial customers and some for the Space Force, NASA, and Amazon’s budding broadband satellite constellation, Project Kuiper.

This means that the company is now firmly committed to its Vulcan rocket, which also means it is entirely committed to the repeatedly delayed BE-4 engine that Blue Origin is building for that rocket. This announcement suggests that Bruno is confident that the BE-4’s problems have been overcome, and that Blue Origin is about to begin regular assembly of the many flightworthy engines ULA will need.

If so, this is really good news. It not only means that Vulcan launches will finally begin, but that Blue Origin might also begin flying its New Glenn rocket. Both will give the U.S. some competitive options for getting big payloads into space. Right now the only real choice at a reasonable price is SpaceX, and having one choice is never a good thing.

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9 comments

  • David Eastman

    My understanding is that this announcement doesn’t reflect any decision on whether or not to stop Atlas 5 production- that was always capped on the number of engines they have, and they aren’t getting any more from Russia. This announcement is just saying that every Atlas 5 in the queue now has a customer assigned.

  • Jeff Wright

    Sad. It was easy to use…not that much different than Delta II in some ways

  • Jay

    David is correct. I remembered a post here in the past about ULA buying more RD-180 engines (Yes Bob I did search first) and found two articles with a purchase of twelve last year and six this year. I don’t know if the six was in addition to or part of the order for the twelve.

    Even though the first article was posted a year ago, ULA is still in the same predicament now, waiting for the BE-4.

  • Edward

    David Eastman,
    The post does not suggest that a decision was made, other than accepting a payload for the last available Atlas rocket.

    Robert,
    There is no link to the interview.

  • Edward: The interview was done for the article at the link. They did not provide a link to the interview itself.

  • Richard M

    It’s interesting, because Bruno has also said that ULA has no plans to human rate the Vulcan. The plan is – was – to just keep flying Starliners on Atlas V so long as Boing keeps buying launches.

    So either they will keep Atlas V around just for Starliner missions, or they’ll try to squeeze NASA (or Boeing, or both) into paying for human rating Vulcan?

  • Ray Van Dune

    Richard M., how can one “keep Atlas V around just for Starliner missions” when Atlas is not reusable, and all remaining launches (and RD-180 engines) are sold? Please forgive me if I am missing something obvious.

  • mpthompson

    Once Vulcan is flying, ULA can probably shift some of the remaining Atlas V launches to the Vulcan to free up launches for Starliner.

  • Richard M

    Hello Ray,

    The short answer is: There is nothing to keep ULA from buying additional RD-180’s from NPO Energomash, if they want to continue using the Atlas V.

    The long answer is: Well, let’s review the history:

    2014: ULA announces plan to develop a new lauch vehicle employing U.S.-developed engines
    2016: Congress reaches a compromise to allow the Air Force (now, Space Force) to set December 31, 2022 as the end date for awarding contracts to the United Launch Alliance (ULA) for Atlas V launches of national security satellites that would use RD-180 engines.
    2016: Tory Bruno announces that the new launcher, Vulcan, will be human rated. [https://twitter.com/torybruno/status/770579558726668288]
    2020: Bruno reverses himself on human rating: “Boeing hasn’t been certifying the Starliner capsule to fly on Vulcan, meaning the Atlas V will remain Starliner’s ride to the ISS for the foreseeable future. ULA will have the RD-180s to handle the expected pace of Starliner launches into 2028, if needed, Bruno said.​ ” [Link: https://www.bizjournals.com/denver/news/2020/08/20/united-launch-alliance-space-force-spacex-contract.html%5D

    Bob’s post brings us up to today. So how to reconcile this with all that?

    The first observation to make is that the federal statute only pertains to national security launches. It does not forbid NASA, or Boeing, or Amazon, or Sierra Nevada, from contracting a payload on an Atlas (or any rocket using Russian engines) after 2022.

    The second observation to make is that while Bruno’s comment *sounds* definitive, it does not speak specifically to what Atlas V launches Boeing has already purchased on Atlas V. It could be that they’re set for launches on some of those Atlas V’s into the late 2020’s (it only has to launch once per year, after all). That said, I don’t know any more than you do how many of those there are.

    I think what happened is that Boeing – which is both customer and 50% ULA stakeholder – decided at one point that they did not want to pay for human rating Vulcan (or at least, not a moment sooner than they have to); that it would be cheaper for the time being to fly Starliner on Atlas V, even though it is a more expensive rocket. Note that the Commercial Crew contract is fixed cost; if they did not include human rating costs for Vulcan (on top of human rating Atlas V) in the contract, Boeing has to eat that cost itself.

    Hopefully Bruno will clarify just exactly what will be done with Vulcan vis-a-vis Starliner soon.

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