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ULA’s Delta 4 rocket launches Air Force communications satellite

Capitalsm in space: ULA yesterday used its Delta 4 rocket to successfully place in orbit an Air Force communications satellite.

This is one of the last launches of the the Delta 4 member in the Delta rocket family.

The mission marked the next-to-last flight of the Delta 4 rocket variant with a single first stage core — known as the Delta 4-Medium — as ULA begins retiring segments of its launcher family in preparation for the debut of the new Vulcan booster, which the company says will be less expensive than the existing Atlas and Delta fleet.

Gary Wentz, ULA’s vice president of government and commercial programs, said the company’s decision in 2014 to retire the Delta 4-Medium was intended to reduce the company’s costs. “We started looking at the products that we were providing, and found that maintaining these two families of launch vehicles, both the Delta and the Atlas, through this period decreased our flight rate, and therefore increased our costs,” Wentz said. “That really drove it, based on the competitive industry we’re in, trying to maximize our competitiveness.”

The Delta 4-Medium family provides the same range of lift capability as the less expensive Atlas 5 rocket. The Delta 4-Heavy, which will remain operational through at least the early-to-mid-2020s, uses three Delta 4 first stage cores bolted together to haul heavier payloads to orbit than any of the Atlas 5 configurations.

The leaders in the 2019 launch race:

3 SpaceX
3 China
2 Europe (Arianespace)
2 Russia

In the national rankings, the U.S. has now widened its lead on China to 5 to 3.

Note that two different American companies are matching the launch numbers of three other whole countries. This I think illustrates well the power of freedom and competition. Rather than have a single nationalized rocket system (as was attempted in the 2000s when Boeing and Lockheed Martin created ULA, then the only American rocket company), the U.S. has transitioned back to its roots, allowing freedom to produce multiple companies competing for both private and government business. This has reduced costs, encouraged innovation, and ended up producing more jobs and wealth.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, 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.


  • Lee S

    I can only agree with you Bob….
    As a socialist middle/left winger, I can only agree that certain services should be left to independent providers…
    I don’t believe that every service governments should provide should be tended out to the lowest bidder, but when it is plain and clear that private enterprise can deliver a superior service at lower cost, then the elected government are not doing their job if they don’t take advantage of the cheaper/better option….

  • Lee S

    By the way…. I used to think US politics was kind of farcical…. but if you want to have a laugh, have a news search for brexit… I’m an Ex-pat from GB… I live in Sweden now… But if I was a GB resident I would be up in arms…. The elected parliament are proving themselves not fit for purpose… In spades!!

  • wayne

    Delta IV; WGS-10 launch
    March 6, 2019

  • Lee S: You take a reasonable position, for which I wish more on the left would do. I also know that we still disagree, in that I believe there are almost no services the government can provide better than a free society, and this is not your position.

    Nonetheless, you represent a liberal position a sane society deserves. Your comment about Brexit however illustrates we no longer have a sane society. Those in government there have been corrupted by their power (as I believe always happens), and are working hard to overturn the will of the people, as proven in an actual election.

    This is also what is happening in the U.S. An elitist bunch of appointed government workers, in the FBI, Justice Department, and elsewhere, decided they did not like the results of the 2016 election, and worked to overturn that election.

    This is not farcical. It is the height of oppression and goes against everything the Enlightenment brought to western civilization. We need more people on the left to realize this, and demand it to stop.

  • Lee S

    Thank you Bob… It’s perhaps the first time we have kinda sorta almost agreed on a political level ;-)

    I also agree that the real “left” needs to disassociate itself from the crazy …and yes, I agree, “fascist” movement which has become so popular in the last few years..
    I advocate for higher taxes, and a social system which protects the most vulnerable in society, provides universal health care, education, and I’d go as far as underpinning public transport in cities… ( Less cars = less pollution… Better for all, for many reasons)

    I do not think freedom of speech should ever be shut down.. even if they are my enemy, they have the basic human right to hold their point of view… No matter what my opinion.
    And should we stifle dissenting opinions, we are only a stone’s throw from burning books.

    Regarding the situation in the UK…. I could weep… The brexit vote was close but decisive, and the elected representatives have played soccer for over 2 years now, kicking the ball up and down the field, and now the final whistle is about to be blown, they are no closer to any sort of plan than the day after the vote.
    I had to laugh at a comment left on my hometown news website..
    “The last person to enter the British parliament building who had the best interests of the British people at heart was Guy Falks”
    US, British, European politics… A bunch of snakes…

  • wayne

    V for Vendetta: The Dominoes Fall

  • wayne

    Jordan Peterson Addresses Socialist Intellectuals
    April 2018 (excerpt Lafayette University)

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