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ULA’s Delta Heavy successfully launches spy satellite for NRO

ULA today has successfully launched a spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, using its Delta Heavy rocket, its largest rocket.

With this launch, ULA retires the Delta from any further launches from Vandenberg. Future California launches will use its as yet untested Vulcan rocket.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

42 SpaceX
38 China
12 Russia
7 Rocket Lab

American private enterprise now leads China 59 to 38 in the national rankings, and the entire world combined 59 to 58. The 59 launches makes this the third most active launch year in American history, trailing only 1966 (70 launches) and 1965 (64 launches).

SpaceX has a Falcon 9 launch of 52 Starlink satellites scheduled very shortly, so these numbers will hopefully go up again before the day is out.

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.


  • Ray Van Dune

    I had a casual friend who had an admin job that had nothing to do with rockets, but it took him to the factory in Long Beach where they built the Delta IV series. Naturally they offered to show him one of the rockets as sort of a welcoming gesture, but as he was on a tight schedule he almost didn’t bother. Like I said not a CLOSE friend!

    Anyway, to be a good sport he agreed to walk out to the factory… and as long as I knew him after that, he never quit talking about it!

    He was not only floored by the size of the booster itself, but then they told him to imagine two more, one on each side of it, in the Heavy configuration. He thought they were pulling his leg until they showed him the user guide!

  • Jeff Wright

    Long Beach?

    The SSME clad RS-68s had 90% fewer parts than RS-25…and was to go on Ares V at first…

  • Ray Van Dune

    My memory of what he said may be flawed! As I remember he said he was at the former Douglas factory in Long Beach, Ca.

  • Lee S

    I have a question… Why was the Delta never man rated? It seems to have been a reliable work horse for many years..

  • Lee S: I can’t directly answer your question. However, I do know this. The Delta family of rockets had become ULA’s most very expensive rockets to build in recent years, much more expensive than the Atlas-5 or the proposed Vulcan. Thus, Boeing had no interest in using it for Starliner, and SpaceX had its own much cheaper rocket.

    Congress meanwhile mandated NASA build its own rocket, SLS, cobbled from shuttle equipment.

    There were thus no customers for Delta. I suspect this is why it was never man-rated.

  • Lee S

    Thanks Bob…. I guess that combo makes nothing but sense… Especially when you throw that long shadow of SLS into the mix…

  • Jay

    To answer your question about the Delta-IV Heavy’s engine, the RS-68, and to point out Jeff Wright’s post, I am sure the reason why all those other parts had to be added was to man-rate the RS-25 for the shuttle. The shuttle’s RS-25 had a little bit more thrust than the RS-68, and like Jeff said, that engine was considered for the five engine first stage of the canceled predecessor of the SLS, the Ares-V.

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