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Video of Vector test launch

Below is a variety of angles showing the launch today of Vector’s test rocket. The rocket doesn’t fly as straight as one would expect, but then, this is a test flight.

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.


  • eddie willers

    See…we DO have paved roads in Georgia!

  • wayne

    My first introduction to Georgia was very positive, as a kid in the mid 60’s– free Coca Cola at the Welcome Center rest-stop on the Interstate, and then I bought a Confederate flag at the Stuckey’s.

    A repeat from me, but topical & references Vector, Electron, et al, and gives a good context of “small rockets,” which I find useful to get my head around this.

    “How Small Can You Make An Orbital Rocket?”
    Scott Manley 7-23-17

  • LocalFluff

    No billion dollar launch pad needed there. Even the Russians paid $300 million to (sentimentally) repair the launch pad of Sputnik I after an exploding Soyuz destroyed it. How can launch pads be so expensive? It’s just concrete (how does it even break?) And trailer rockets like this can almost launch from the palm of one’s hand. A pocket rocket.

  • Frank

    Gotta start somewhere. A little wobble is better than spontaneous disassembly. I wish them success.

  • aeroeng14

    The lack of a straight flight path is because the thrust vector control system either wasn’t active or wasn’t installed yet for this particular test flight. The next one (3rd overall flight) will start testing the integrated GN&C system.

    “Garvey didn’t give a schedule for the next test flight, which will test a thrust vector control system for the rocket.”

  • eddie willers

    At one point in the webcast, a wild pig could be seen crossing the field in front of the launch pad

    Welcome to Camden Spaceport/BBQ.

    “Our sauce is out of this world”

  • wayne

    Good stuff!

    -Does wild-ginseng grow in Georgia?

  • LocalFluff

    Since you mention pigs, you maybe mean “sausages out of this world”?
    The final count down is lost time anyway, so it would be nice to see one of the staff shoot a boar during it. To make himself productive.

  • Are they launching from someone’s back yard?

  • Edward

    LocalFluff asked: “How can launch pads be so expensive? It’s just concrete (how does it even break?) And trailer rockets like this can almost launch from the palm of one’s hand. A pocket rocket.

    The launch pad depends upon the rocket. Larger rockets need more concrete for their pads, as the exhaust gasses have to be directed away, as they will impinge upon the structure (concrete) for longer time periods than for smaller rockets; there is also more exhaust associated with larger rockets than smaller ones. Larger rockets also need larger facility structures, even at the pad, such as the gantry. There may even be plumbing for water to protect the pad (and the rocket itself) from the exhaust and the effects of the exhaust. The list goes on.

    Liquid rockets need plumbing and umbilical lines to fuel them.

    Manned rockets need added safety features at the pad.

    Frank wrote: “A little wobble is better than spontaneous disassembly.

    I’m not sure that this was a “wobble.” I think that the rocket doesn’t fly as straight as Robert expected because the test only took it to 10,000 feet. It needed to turn downrange fairly early in its flight in order to avoid landing back onto the launch pad or onto the launch support crew.

    Blair Ivey asked: “Are they launching from someone’s back yard?

    They are launching from Georgia’s brand-new, 2-year old spaceport. It looks like it has plenty of room left for development, giving it that “backyard” look.

  • wayne

    thanks for that link

    Pivoting to historic NASA multimedia:

    Sounding Rockets: Establishing a Rocket Research Range
    1962 NASA

  • Anthony Domanico

    Congrats to Vector! I am so excited to see the state of the industry in a decade. Blue Origin is really going to change the dynamics. Also, I don’t think anyone can exclude the possibility that one of these small sat launcher companies will have manned space mission aspirations. I know Jim Cantrell of Vector Space Systems has stated he has no interest in entering that elite club, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rocket Lab pursue something like that down the road. Anyone else have thoughts along those lines?

  • LocalFluff

    Going from small sat launchers to space stations is a big step. Those are two different industries. Launching a cube sat as secondary payload on one of the large common launchers today cost $100,000 per kilogram (per unit cube). Large payloads pay only $3,000 per kg on the Falcon 9 now. Designing to cut that overhead and launching 100 kg at a time, allows for good business.

    Axiom is a space station company with quite some credibility. They are former ISS managers and shuttle astronauts, have real funding instead of some “crowd”, and plan to start out with adding a private segment to the ISS, add to it again and later turn it into a separate space station. Among all the visionaries in the space business, they actually look very sober and realistic. As if they were doing normal business on Earth. Keep an eye on them, they are not as highly visible online like those who have visions or beg crowds for funding.

  • Edward

    LocalFluff wrote: “Axiom is a space station company with quite some credibility. … Keep an eye on them,

    Bigelow, Axiom, and the Ixion Initiative Team (NanoRacks, Space Systems/Loral, and ULA) are the three space station companies/groups that I am keeping an eye on. Bigelow may be in the lead, right now, but the other two seem to be serious about space habitats/space stations.

  • Anthony Domanico


    I agree, going from small satellite launchers to crewed space stations is indeed a huge step. I think you may have misunderstood me when I said “manned space mission.” To better explain my original point, consider where SpaceX started. The Falcon 1 was a foot in the door, but from the beginning Elon had aspirations of doing manned space missions. Likewise, even Jeff Bezos started with small unmanned vehicles. So just because Rocket Lab’s and others’ initial vehicles are small and unmanned doesn’t mean they will stay small and unmanned.


    I’m with you on your assessment of the US space station industry. I really hope Bigelow gets the first private space station in LEO because he used a huge amount of his own money and I really like the pragmatic philosophy behind expandables. Nothing against Dr. Baine or Mr. Suffredini, I hope Axiom is successful too. There’s plenty of room up there and I think eventually, a lot of money to be made out of thin space.

  • wodun

    Plenty of room and with some commonality in terms of mating, plenty of room to specialize in different capabilities. In the hopefully not too distant future, we probably wont see stations or ships built entirely by one manufacturer but several, although there might be a prime contractor.

  • John E Bowen


    “. . . and with some commonality in terms of mating, plenty of room to specialize in . . .”

    I assume you mean the ability to connect various modules together, even if they’re from different vendors; and also docking hatches which allow spacecraft from different vendors to visit.

    OK, so how does one go about establishing standards for this interconnection? I’m asking the question seriously. Do we go with the docking system NASA set up for Cygnus and Dragon? Does NASA issue an RFI, then an RFP for a contract to develop a standard? Or do we just let the vendors innovate for a while and see what happens?

    Although it has taken years and years, the development of competitive standards like USB -1 -2 -3 -C for various levels of data throughput (and against versions of SCSI, e-SATA, etc.) has been quite interesting. You could say the same about the rise of various flavors of WiFi vs. Bluetooth. There’s one real difference between this mass produced hardware and interconnections of space hardware, made on a more individual, custom basis.

    So, for space modules, how are the standards developed?

  • wodun

    OK, so how does one go about establishing standards for this interconnection?

    In some ways this already exists on the ISS.

    But to answer your question, I don’t know. NASA could help but it would be better if industry figured it out. Other than the industry not really existing right now, the problem could be that some would choose to be the Apple of space and create a walled garden.

    Taking your USB example further, there are any number of USB to X adapters. For example, a female USB to male micro USB adapter. You can even take an old IDE hard drive and turn it into an external USB portable hard drive. Some companies may choose to play nice and other companies might create nodes between nodes to make everything work across manufacturer and model.

  • Anthony Domanico

    John E. Bowen,

    I thought the IDA (International Docking Adapter) was an attempt at answering this question. It converts the ISS docking system to the International Docking System Standard. I think the industry should be allowed to figure out how the modules will stick together and let the docking hatches be an internationally agreed upon standard. I think it’s important to have a common docking system so that a spacecraft from one station can perform an emergency rescue at another station. Either way it’s an interesting question John.

    Perhaps when the time has come for a Space Corps one of its jobs will be to set safety and engineering standards like the US Coast Guard does for water based vehicles. I know, it sounds silly talking about a Space Corps, but… it’s still cool to me.

  • Edward

    Anthony Domanico wrote: “There’s plenty of room up there and I think eventually, a lot of money to be made out of thin space.

    What a nice twist on the phrase. Making money out of thin air: (10 minutes, “What We Believe: Wealth Creation” by Bill Whittle)

    In the same way, money can be made out of thin space.

    John E Bowen,
    You asked: “So, for space modules, how are the standards developed?”

    Historically, they have been developed by governments. If wodun’s answer, “In some ways this already exists on the ISS” is not good enough for you, then there is always the usual way that standards are determined in any industry, such as your USB example: a convention of companies. I expect that many future standards will be developed in this way, rather than being imposed by governments.

  • Anthony Domanico


    I’m glad you caught that! I’m a huge fan of Bill Whittle ever since you shared a link to one of his videos.

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