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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.


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World’s largest drone unveiled for launching smallsats

Capitalism in space: Aevum, a new entrant in the race to provide low cost reusable launch services for the emerging smallsat market, has unveiled the world’s largest drone, dubbed RAVN-X, designed to take off and land at airports and then release an upper stage rocket that takes the satellite into orbit.

RAVN-X is not the first air-launched rocket catering to the “smallsat” market. Northrop Grumman’s Pegasus system has flown dozens of times since the 1990s. Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne failed in its first launch attempt earlier this year, will try again later this month with an attempt to launch 10 NASA-funded “CubeSats”—small satellites that typically weigh less than 10 kilograms each. But both Pegasus and LauncherOne use traditional, piloted jets, whereas Aevum’s driverless drone is unique, says Phil Smith, a senior analyst at Bryce Space and Technology, a consulting firm. Still, Smith says, RAVN-X is flying into a crowded market, with more than 100 small launch vehicles in development. “There’s a plethora of systems out there,” he says. “There isn’t room for more than perhaps three to five or so.”

According to the article, Aevum already has a billion dollars in launch contracts with the Space Force. They are targeting ’21 for their first orbital 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.


  • Kevin R.

    That is one wicked looking drone.

  • janyuary

    Wow, with drones like that, who needs UFOs? Prediction: as with the Starlink satellites, reported UFO sightings in the general public will increase significantly. I can only wonder what stone-age folks on the planet think, looking up and seeing a single-file parade of 70+ “stars” move across the heavens?

    Kevin, yes it is lethal looking, but it is conspicuously lacking in a few well-placed bad-ass bumps. When one sees them on vehicles air, water, or ground, one warily figures the sacrifice in drag must have been worth whatever diabolical technology the bump accommodates! But that’s from a pure design psychology perspective!

  • Doubting Thomas

    Seems like a variation on Mitchell Burnside Clapp’s DARPA ALASA (Airborne Launch Assist Space Access) project that went as far as Boeing blowing up the selected boosters in ground testing then got shut down.

    I think the size of the payload that the article says Aevum is considering is smaller than ALASA was looking at:

  • Jerry E Greenwood

    Why? Weight savings without a pilot?

  • APL

    It looks like it is just a mock-up. People are getting a little ahead of themselves. This is still vapor-tech at this point. No record of even a successful flight.

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