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I am now in the third week of my annual February birthday fund-raising drive. The first two weeks were good, but not record-setting.

 

There are still two weeks left in this campaign however. If you have been a regular reader and a fan of my work and have not yet donated or subscribed, please consider doing so. I take no ads, I keep the website clean from pop-ups and annoying demands (most of the time). Thus, I depend entirely on my readers to support me. Though this means I am sacrificing some income, it also means that I remain entirely independent from outside pressure. By depending solely on donations and subscriptions from my readers, no one can threaten me with censorship. You don't like what I write, you can simply go elsewhere.

 

You can support me either by giving a one-time contribution or a regular subscription. There are five ways of doing so:

 

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

3. A Paypal Donation:

4. A Paypal subscription:


5. Donate by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman and mailed to
 
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
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Vulcan likely delayed until ’23

According to Eric Berger at Ars Technica, continuing delays with both the rocket’s payload and main engines, ULA’s Vulcan rocket will almost certainly not launch before the end of this year, as hoped by the company.

The rocket’s first stage BE-4 engines are being built by Blue Origin, and are already four years behind schedule. According to Berger’s sources, they will not be delivered to ULA until mid-August, which makes a launch in ’22 very unlikely, especially because both the engines and rocket are new, and will need time for fitting and further testing as a unit.

As for the payload, Berger’s assessment is not based on any new information. The payload, Astrobotic’s first lunar lander dubbed Peregrine, has also been experiencing delays, but the article provides no further information on whether it will miss its targets to be ready in ’22.

Regardless, it appears that Blue Origin is still dragging in its effort to build the BE-4 engine. If Vulcan cannot launch this year, it will threaten ULA’s long term future, since the company is depending on it to replace its Atlas-5 and Delta rockets. The delays now are allowing others to catch up and grab business that ULA might have garnered had Vulcan been operational as planned.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

 
The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.


The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.
 

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News

2 comments

  • Ray Van Dune

    “The delays now are allowing others to catch up and grab business…”

    Who are these other competitors? Yes, there are small-sat operators, but the only other true competitor is…. Blue Origin. I suppose you are technically correct there, in that BO will use its first working engines itself, should any come to be.

    Yes, SLS and BO are really setting a torrid pace for SpaceX to try to match! Perhaps they could team up with Russia and Venezuela!

  • Ray Van Dune: I am actually thinking of some of those small sat companies. Rocket Lab is already planning a rocket that would compete. Relativity and Firefly plan the same, and are getting very close to their first launch. All three would put satellites in orbit far cheaper than ULA could ever do.

Readers: the rules for commenting!

 

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