The final week of my annual February birthday month fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black has begun. I continue to be overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, including numerous donations and a surge of new subscribers willing to commit to donating anywhere from $2 to $25 per month. Wow! The numbers are too many to send out individual thank you’s, so please forgive me for thanking you all with this one announcement.


The campaign however must go on, especially because I have added more regular features to my daily workload. In addition to my daily never-ending reporting on space exploration and science, my regular launch reports, my monthly sunspot updates, the regular cool images, and the evening pauses I post each evening, I have now added a daily weekday post I have entitled "Today's blacklisted American." Its goal is not to discuss policy or politics, but to note the endless examples occurring across the United States where some jack-booted thug or thugs think it is proper and acceptable to censor, blackball, cancel, and destroy an innocent American, merely because that American has expressed or holds an opinion or is of a race or religion that is no longer considered acceptable to the dominant leftist and bigoted culture. I want to make clear to every American that a large number of your fellow citizens no longer believe in the enlightened concept of freedom of speech or the idea of treating each person by the quality of their character.


Instead, they wish to shut you up, and oppress you if you happen to disagree with them or have the wrong skin color. This evil must be exposed.


To continue to do this into the foreseeable future however I need your support. If you are one of those millions who read Behind the Black each month, please consider donating or subscribing. Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
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Watching Starship #9’s flight, take 2

LabPadre's Starship 24/7 live feed, at 9:12 am (Central), February 2,, 2021
LabPadre’s Starship 24/7 live feed, 9:12 am (Central), February 2,, 2021.
Click to go to it.

Capitalism in space: It appears that SpaceX has finally gotten approval from our benevolent government to attempt today a flight of the ninth prototype of its Starship. to a height of approximately 33,000 feet. The screen capture to the right from this morning shows Starship’s #9 and #10, both on their own launchpads. I think #9 is the one on the right.

As the company’s Starship website still notes,

Similar to the high-altitude flight test of Starship serial number 8 (SN8), SN9 will be powered through ascent by three Raptor engines, each shutting down in sequence prior to the vehicle reaching apogee – approximately 10 km in altitude. SN9 will perform a propellant transition to the internal header tanks, which hold landing propellant, before reorienting itself for reentry and a controlled aerodynamic descent.

The Starship prototype will descend under active aerodynamic control, accomplished by independent movement of two forward and two aft flaps on the vehicle. All four flaps are actuated by an onboard flight computer to control Starship’s attitude during flight and enable precise landing at the intended location. SN9’s Raptor engines will then reignite as the vehicle attempts a landing flip maneuver immediately before touching down on the landing pad adjacent to the launch mount.

SpaceX will be providing a live stream, which I shall embed here at Behind the Black once it becomes available about ten minutes before launch. In addition, there are these live streams available:

The SpaceX live feed will provide the best visuals, but that will not go live until just before launch. Right now I think the Labpadre live feed is my preferred choice because it provides a quick checklist on the screen telling you the countdown status, which in turn gives you an idea how soon the launch might be. For example, when the sirens sound, it means they are approximately 10 minutes to launch.

While this flight will likely be as epic as the flight of Starship #8, there is no guarantee it will occur today. Until they actually lights the candle, much of the action today will be like watching paint dry.

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.


  • creeper

    Thank you for this link. Wish the tip could’ve been bigger.

  • Diane Wilson

    NSF describing there livestream as “roadside rocket science.” Ha!

  • Lee Stevenson

    Great news, and can’t wait to watch the video… ( It’s bed time here..)
    “It appears that SpaceX has finally gotten approval from our benevolent government”… 48 hours is not “Finally”, indeed, it seems to me that if the launch was given the thumbs up after a genuine legally correct challenge, then whatever authority which gave the go ahead should be praised rather than condemned for the speed of the decision. I know that no one here likes the government you have, but it seems to me that this incident actually shows an efficacy of government, rather than the reverse. We should all keep our fingers crossed, across the whole political spectrum, that this trend continues!

  • Diane Wilson

    SN9 failed landing. Looks like a Raptor disintegrated on restart.

  • Todd Brown

    Lapadre livestream was absolutely horrible.

    Would’ve actually been nice to see the rocket reach it’s 10 kilometers.

    They just stayed on the launch pad throughout.

    I’d recommend something different.
    In addition, I’d like to hear progress and what’s going on throughout the launch.

  • Todd Brown: I agree. I watched SpaceX’s live feed, but periodically switched to both LabPadre and NASASpaceflight. The latter did a much better job, though their cameras don’t have as high a resolution. Good resolution is useless if the camera is not aimed properly.

    I will adjust for the next flight.

  • Todd Brown

    Thank you Robert. I’m glad you agree.
    Looking forward to your next prodcast about what you think about this on John Batchelor.

    Happy Caving.

  • Jeff Wright

    I am starting to think that Musk and Bezos need to work together-but perhaps both under a former Rockwell man…maybe a James Martin, who wrote for the Journal of Rockets for many years. Starship is a defacto shuttle replacement, and the whole LV stack is just the Space Freighter concept. Starship may need wings. A Rockwell man to lead Boeing funded by Bezos and Musk could pave the way to powersats yet.

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