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My February birthday fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black it now over. I sincerely and with deep gratitude thank all those who donated. Without your support I could not keep doing this, not so much because of the need for income to pay the bills, but because it tells me that there are people out there who want me to do this work. For those who did not contribute during the campaign, please consider adding your vote of support to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, in any one of the following ways:


1. Zelle: This is the only internet method that charges no fees. All you have to do is use the Zelle link at your internet bank and give my name and email address (zimmerman at nasw dot org). What you donate is what I get.


2. Donate through Gabpay, using my email address zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

3. Patreon: Go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation.

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Virgin Galactic shares crash after Branson flight

Capitalism in space: The price of the stock for Virgin Galactic plummeted 17% shortly after Richard Branson’s flight on July 11th, experiencing its worst day in more than a year.

The drop occurred shortly after the company announced it was going to sell an additional $500 million in new shares.

Virgin Galactic, which trades under the ticker SPCE, fell 17.3% after it filed notice of its stock sale offering with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Trading in Virgin Galactic was briefly halted Monday morning due to volatility.

The drop in price is likely a reflection of several things, none of which reflects negatively on the overall bright picture for commercial space. First, the release of new stock meant the supply was greater than demand, and thus the price dropped. Second, Branson’s flight, while grand, also highlighted its limitations. While there certainly appears to be a market for suborbital tourism, I suspect the arrival of regular and likely increasingly cheaper orbital flights will cut into this market. In comparison, a short five minutes of weightlessness cannot compare with spending a week in orbit.

Third, Virgin Galactic as a company has nowhere to go. The rocket is essentially an engineering dead end. It can do suborbital flights relatively cheaply and quickly, but the demand for such flights is limited, especially with the arrival of relatively cheaper orbital access.

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.


  • Willi

    I made an attempt to do a short sale of 5 shares of SPCE. The order was rejected by TDAmeritrade, my broker. No reason was. given.

  • Sam

    This pessimism assumes that Virgin Galactic will only offer flights on their own proprietary technology which is obviously limited. But I anticipate in due course they will evolve into a space liner who will purchase orbital launch vehicles from commercial manufacturers much as airliners today purchase commercial planes from
    Boeing and Airbus.. In fact this is one area where the Virgin hype machine may soon help the nascent ***orbital *** commercial personal flight industry. It would be odd indeed if Virgin doesn’t compete in this space once new commercial flightworthy launch vehicles become available. I suspect this is ultimately what underlies the bromance between Richard Branson and Elon Musk!!!!!!!!!! Which also gives Musk an opportunity to stick it to Bezos’ Blue Origin. Furthermore, Musk is said to have purchased a suborbital flight from Virgin according to several press reports which I suspect will blossom much further.

  • Col Beausabre

    It would be so, so cool for Musk to invite Bezos and Branson on the first commercial SpaceX launch and when the vehicle achieves orbit, have him turn to those two and say, “That’s how it’s done, boys”

  • Jeff Wright

    I don’t want Elon to fly anything. His death would be a greater loss than Korolev’s passing. After Starship becomes the Dakota of Space…and Elon turns 99…then we’ll talk.

  • Questioner

    The main disadvantage of SpaceShipTwo is that due to the type of rocket engine chosen, this space plane is not really completely reusable. I think very few people know that after every flight the rocket motor, which contains the solid fuel (a type of rubber), has to be completely replaced after the fuel has been used up. This is certainly not cheap. Even the selected oxidizer (nitrous oxide) is many times more expensive than liquid oxygen. Perhaps the company should look into installing the NewtonThree first-stage engine from the LauncherOne (Virgin Orbit) rocket into the spaceplane, which could certainly increase the peak altitude significantly.

  • pzatchok

    VG wants to be able to service the space ship while at any first world airport.

    Liquid O2 is not always available nor is it easy to ship. And world wide regulations might make it way to hard to acquire in some places.

    US regulations now would make it almost impossible to ship a liquid fueled rocket engine out of the country.

    Right now SpaceShipOne can be maintained and turned around with a 10 man crew pretty much anyplace.

    I wonder if they can put a longer engine into the SSO? Give it a longer burn time.

  • Lee Stevenson

    I’ve asked this on another thread…. But does anyone know how long it takes to change out the engine?

  • Interesting. So LOX can be regulatorily forbidden, but shipping in a gargantuan stick of dynamite is OK?

    One has got to love clueless regulators.

    BTW: I totally get that LOX (in the needed quantity) may not be available; it’s not as if one can order literal tons of it from AirGas and expect timely delivery to Dubai (or wherever). Lack of availability is considerably different from lack of approval.

  • Questioner


    Liquid oxygen is found in practically every industrialized country and is readily available. It’s nothing special. Obtaining such large quantities of nitrous oxide (laughing gas) as SS2 needs for its hybrid rocket propulsion system can be a local challenge. By the way, laughing gas is already (without a fuel) an energetic substance in itself, a monergol propellant. The three mechanics who died in 2007 during a flow test for SpaceShipTwo from a large laughing gas (N2O) tank, fell victim to this dangerous substance, due to an explosion. LOX is also ridiculously cheap compared to N2O (laughing gas / nitrous oxide). Laughing gas is also a greenhouse gas.

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