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ULA’s Delta-4 Heavy successfully launches reconnaissance satellite

Capitalism in space: After a several month delay, ULA’s Delta-4 Heavy tonight successfully launched a reconnaissance satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office.

The leaders in the 2020 launch race:

33 China
23 SpaceX
13 Russia
5 Rocket Lab
5 Europe (Arianespace)

The U.S. now leads China 37 to 33 in the national rankings. The U.S. launch total this year matches the number of launches achieved in 1969, and is the most launches by the U.S. in a single year since then.

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 available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors. The ebook can 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. Note that the price for the ebook, $3.99, goes up to $5.99 on September 1, 2022.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • Mitch S

    I assume in 1969 all 37 launches were by the US government.
    This year zero launches are by the government.
    That’s a radical change.

    BTW who is going to write the book on SpaceX/Musk? A story a SciFi writer would find hard to imagine. And the story is still in the early chapters.

  • Dick Eagleson

    Funny you should ask.

    Last year, Ashlee Vance published Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, And The Quest For A Fantastic Future. In March of next year, Eric Berger, of Ars Technica, will have a new book out about the early years of SpaceX. The title will be Liftoff: Elon Musk and the Desperate Early Days That Launched SpaceX. Both authors had Elon Musk’s cooperation anent their projects.

    There are a number of other books out about Elon Musk, Tesla and/or SpaceX that were written from more of an arm’s length. They’re all easily findable on Amazon.

  • Mitch S wrote, “I assume in 1969 all 37 launches were by the US government. This year zero launches are by the government. That’s a radical change.”

    You took the words right out of my mouth.

  • Mitch S.

    I see some good reviews for the Vance book, but I expect the Berger book to have more focus on Space X and of course be up to date.
    (Looks like the Vance book came out in 2016)
    Might just have to buy both.
    We are witnessing a remarkable man with remarkable accomplishments (and human flaws of course). It does seem to me that particularly at SpaceX he’s put together a remarkable staff. How else could it accomplish so much.
    This week while two SpaceX capsules were docked at the ISS (one having transported four astronauts), the company launched a prototype of it’s huge next rocket.
    I rolled with laughter when shortly after the rocket crashed and blew up, with an image of the smoldering pieces on the pad, SpaceX control sent a congratulatory message to the test crew – and meant it! The test was a success, who cares that the rocket blew up, they were done with it, plenty more in the closet.
    (Reminds me of a scene from an old Charlie Brown TV special. Lucy smashes Schroedors’ piano smug with the knowledge she ruined his day, but when she leaves Schroedor calmly opens a closet stacked with pianos and takes another one out.)

  • mkent

    …SpaceX…SpaceX…SpaceX…SpaceX…SpaceX…Space X…SpaceX…SpaceX…SpaceX…”

    So the comments on a post about a ULA launch are entirely about SpaceX. And you wonder why people call it a cult.

  • john hare

    Probably because most of us are aware that Delta is running out the subsidy clock before retirement. It is frustrating though that SpaceX doesn’t currently have clearly viable competition.

  • geoffc

    I watched the Delta 4 Heavy launch, till the side boosters seperated, and was thinking, where are the landing cameras? I want to watch the side boosters land.

    Then I remembered.

  • V-Man

    What fascinates me is that a small company like Rocket Lab has almost the same number of orbital launches as a huge conglomerate like ULA (and will soon match it, I think?).

  • Captain Emeritus

    Don’t look now, but the “cult” is about to launch the 102nd Falcon 9 at 17:55 UTC today. It will be the SEVENTH flight of the booster B1051 and will haul up two S band broadcast satellites to geostationary orbits.
    Recovery of the booster will occur 644km downrange on the landing pad known as ASDS. (a tiny speck in the Atlantic ocean)
    This is quite a contrast to the ULA expendable launch yesterday, which provided new, $350 million tax dollar fish habitats in the same ocean.
    Go SpaceX!
    Go Falcon 9!
    Go Elon!

  • Edward

    mkent wrote: “So the comments on a post about a ULA launch are entirely about SpaceX. And you wonder why people call it a cult.

    I love how every time we mention other companies, such as Rocket Lab, mkent does not equate those comments with cultism. Instead, he only picks on the company that he loves to hate the most successful and innovative launch company we have. Why not celebrate success and hope for others, such as ULA, to follow? Indeed, I mention ULA in SpaceX posts, but does mkent accuse me of ULA cultism? No.

    Maybe the talk turns to companies such as Rocket Lab and SpaceX because they are kicking the butts of ULA, Ariane, and Russia. In one case, all three combined.

    Does mkent have a fear of successful companies? Is there a name for that?

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