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:

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Watching Starship #9’s flight

LabPadre's Starship 24/7 live feed, at 8:12 am (Central), January 28, 2021
LabPadre’s Starship 24/7 live feed, at 8:12 am (Central), January 28, 2021.
Click to go to it.

BUMPED AND UPDATED: It is now confirmed that the launch was scrubbed by the FAA’s refusal to approve the license. Though SpaceX seemed to go through a fueling and countdown procedure, they have since detanked the ship.

UPDATE: It appears from several live feeds that they have scrubbed today’s launch because of high winds, and will try again tomorrow. There are also rumors, not yet confirmed, that the launch was scrubbed because the FAA denied the launch license at the last minute.

Capitalism in space: SpaceX today will make an attempt to fly the ninth prototype of its Starship to a height of approximately 33,000 feet. As the company’s Starship website 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. In addition, there are these live streams available:

Without question 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.

Stay tuned. This flight, which will likely be as epic as the flight of prototype #8, could make today a fun day in the history of spaceflight.

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.


  • V-Man

    The live feeds are still going… and the tank farm is shrouded in mist (3:15PM EST).

  • V-Man: No mist on any live stream I list. Two feeds, Everyday Astronaut and NASASpaceFlight seem to think there is still a chance of a launch today, but it is being blocked not by winds by the FAA decision not to approve the launch.

  • David Eastman

    Feeds are back up, tank farm is in operation, and the rocket is venting. It appears they had some FAA permit issues, which got resolved before the window ended, so the test is back ON.

  • David Eastman: No, I don’t think things are that clear. Right now it appears they are depressurizing the ship’s tanks.

    I think they still have FAA issues, and simply decided to do a pressure and countdown rehearsal.

  • They still may launch today, but until I see SpaceX upload its own live feed, I will not expect it.

  • Jeff Wright

    I would like to see a payload-free Super-Heavy core launched into orbit to become a NSWR insertion stage-the Starship converted over to storable Zip propellants for years-long missions that could be automated. Those tanks would be concentric and onion-like to shield robotic payloads nestled safely within.

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