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ULA’s Delta-4 Heavy successfully launches NRO spy satellite

ULA today successfully used its most powerful rocket, the Delta-4 Heavy, to place a National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) surveillance satellite into orbit.

ULA now only has three Delta-4 Heavy’s in its inventory. After those launch the rocket will be retired, to be replaced by the most powerful versions of its new Vulcan rocket.

The leaders in the 2021 launch race:

11 SpaceX
8 China
7 Russia
2 Rocket Lab

The U.S. now leads China 16 to 8 in the national rankings.


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.


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  • mkent

    For the record, this was ULA’s first launch of the year.

  • mkent: You are correct. In updating my database I accidently entered this ULA launch in the Northrop Grumman column, and then assumed the “2” was for ULA. I have fixed it all.

    It is amazing that we are near the end of April, and only now are both ULA and Europe doing their first launches.

  • mkent

    India too.

  • mkent: No, India completed its one successful launch two months ago, at the end of February. And while this is a low launch pace, it is not much different than their average pace, as they even their best years the most launches they managed was seven.

    ULA however until 2017 used to routinely launch about a dozen times a year, while until 2019 Arianespace managed for years to achieve just under that number. Last year’s low numbers could be assigned to COVID, but that’s not an excuse so far this year. Both companies are far down in launches this year, though of course it is early and things could change.

  • mkent

    Bob: You’re right! I completely forgot about the Amazonia launch, maybe because the primary payload was for Brazil and not India itself. I stand corrected.

    In ULA’s case, they’re waiting for payloads. They have several Atlas Vs ready to go waiting for their payload. They still hope to get ten launches off this year, but again, that will be dependent on the payloads being ready. Now that the Delta IV Heavy went off without a hitch, I suspect the only launch threatened by a delayed launch vehicle will be the inaugural Vulcan launch.

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