Tag Archives: publicity

On The Space Show Monday March 19 7 pm PDT

Several recent stories regarding Trump’s space policy has prompted David Livingston to quickly schedule a Bob Zimmerman appearance on The Space Show for Monday, March 19, 7 pm (Pacific). The show will last at least ninety minutes. David especially wanted my analysis of Trump’s comments about the Falcon Heavy and SpaceX and how those comments have the big space contractors Boeing and Lockheed Martin quaking in their boots. Their fear and terror is further compounded by the present lack of a NASA administrator, which is made even worse by the announcement that the acting interim administrator is retiring at the end of March.

You can listen to the show live at the Space Show link. We are hoping that a number of my readers will call in with questions as well as their thoughts. The Space Show toll free number is 1 (866) 687-7223. David does not screen calls, though he expects those who call to have good questions or thoughts that will further the conversation in an entertaining way. And I don’t bite!

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Time for my annual birthday fund-raising campaign

As is obvious at the top of the page, I have today started my annual birthday request for donations or subscriptions to Behind The Black.

Please consider donating or subscribing to the website. Every dollar helps, even if it is as little as a $2 monthly subscription. Or you can consider instead buying either of my ebooks, Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, or Pioneer, both available either here at these links or from any bookseller.

Your contributions not only make it possible for my independent reporting on space, science, and culture to continue, it also keeps this page and its comment section alive. In the past four years that comment section has matured into a place where readers have a chance to exchange their vibrant and knowledgeable thoughts about the news I report here. I am continually impressed by the ideas expressed there by my readers. Help keep it going by donating to this site!

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On the radio

On Tuesday, December 19, 2017 I spent an hour with Robert Pratt on his Pratt on Texas radio show. Most of the show was devoted not to space and science but to discussing my weekly updates on the fascist culture on too many of today’s American campuses.

Robert has just let me know that this hour-long interview is going to be replayed twice over the next two weeks, on Christmas Day, December 25, 2017, and on New Year’s Day, January 1, 2018, both times from 6 to 7 pm Central time. He also let me know that the best link to listen is here.

So, if you have nothing better to do during these holidays, here is something that might help to fill your time.

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Off caving

Because I am off on a caving project this weekend in the mountains where there is no internet service, I will not be able to approve comments or post anything until I return on Sunday.

The next few days should be most interesting, as there are SpaceX and ULA launches scheduled. The SpaceX launch tonight will place a secret government satellite in orbit while trying to land its first stage. The ULA launch on Saturday will be the last launch for its Delta 2 rocket, which the company is retiring because it costs too much to operate.

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I am looking for a library to donate my space history files

I am in the process of updating my will, and in the process I am searching for a library or university or archive that would be an appropriate place to leave my space history archives, collected during the past two and a half decades. This archive includes recordings of numerous interviews with Russian and American astronauts and engineers as well as numerous scientists. It also documents quite thoroughly the first half century of the space age.

I had considered giving this archive to the four year university here in Tucson, but it appears they really don’t want it. My last conversation with the head of their special collections was quite hostile, making me wonder if he might have glanced at my webpage and was triggered by it.

If someone has a suggestion, please comment here or email me. My main desire is that this collection should stay intact. I also desire that whichever university or library accepts it also agree to this clause:

It is my request however that these space materials, which cover the history of the first half century of space exploration by someone who witnessed it and thus will be of special interest to future residents not living on Earth, shall be transferred to the first university established on a world other than Earth that is willing to cover the cost for that transfer. Should such transfer occur, the [Earth-bound university/archive] will have the right to retain copies of all materials.

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Pioneer

Pioneer

I am today announcing the publication of Pioneer, a science fiction book I first wrote back in 1982 that has languished in my files now for more than three decades. As I note in the introduction,

It was never published because at the time I could not find an agent to market it to book publishers, and was then too naive and shy to attempt to do such things myself.

In viewing several recent science fiction movies, however, I was motivated to pull the final draft of Pioneer from my files, wondering if it might be marketable. I hadn’t read it in decades, and had literally forgotten the story. I started reading expecting a typical first novel, somewhat incoherent and emotionally immature.

Instead I was quite surprised and enthralled. I couldn’t put the book down. Moreover, I was astonished at the coherence of the story and characters. “This is a good book!” I exclaimed to my wife Diane. Nor am I bragging when I say this, since the person who wrote it is someone from many decades ago and who essentially no longer exists.

Thus, I decided it was time to get Pioneer published, especially since this is now a very easy thing to do, no longer requiring either an agent or a book publisher.

The press release announcing the book’s publication provides the story’s premise:
» Read more

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Space law vs the Outer Space Treaty

My new op-ed at The Federalist is now online. Other than changing the title from my proposed version above to something a bit more unwieldy, “What You Need To Know About The Space Law Congress Is Considering,” they have posted it exactly as I wrote it.

The essay provides a very detailed analysis of the commercial space law that the House is presently considering. While they are proposing many good reforms, my conclusion unfortunately sums things up:

W.E.B. Du Bois, in studying the African slave trade, once asked, “How far in a State can a recognized moral wrong safely be compromised?” and answered his own question by saying that it is dangerous for “any nation, through carelessness and moral cowardice, [to allow] any social evil to grow. . . . From this we may conclude that it behooves nations as well as men to do things at the very moment when they ought to be done.”

The Outer Space Treaty poses limits on property rights. It also does not provide any mechanism for peacefully establishing sovereignty for any nation on any territory in space. Yet national sovereignty and territorial control is a given in all human societies. If we do nothing to establish a peaceful method for creating sovereignty and national territories in space, nations are going to find their own way to do it, often by force and violence. It behooves us to have the courage to face this issue now, and “do things at the very moment when they ought to be done.”

Read it all.

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Off to Israel + new op-ed!

My April travels continue. It has been too long since I traveled to Israel to visit family, so today I am heading out for the long flight, arriving tomorrow afternoon. I will be there until April 20. I expect I will be able to post, as I have in the past, though my commentary will likely be reduced somewhat.

Note that I will have a new op-ed published sometime this week at The Federalist entitled “What Trump’s space policy should really do.” I am positive that my conclusions will not be what most people expect. The op-ed was inspired by this comment by Edward Thelen, part of comments in connection with this Zimmerman/Batchelor podcast, where I talked about space exploration in the context of the American settlement of the west.

The comparison with the American west is appropriate. There have been other expansions throughout the world, too. In the 19th century, the US was not the only country that had a frontier. We have several examples of expansion from which to learn, but the frontiers in the Americas were clearly the largest, complete with immigration from the Old World straight to the frontier.

An example of a lesson — beyond Robert’s example of the Homesteading Act — is the need for better communication between the US east coast and California. Messages and people needed to move across the continent in far less time and in a safer manner than those that were available in 1860, so government funded a transcontinental railroad, a line longer than had ever been built or operated before. Earthbound or space-born governments may also have needs for similar large projects. Although the needs of We the People has been shown to be best met through private-ownership of free-market capitalist commerce, there will be times when government should also fund projects that solve its needs.

Edward was suggesting that the focus of the federal government — and Trump’s space policy — should be building an infrastructure that will make it easier for private companies and individuals to work in space. My initial response had agreed with him:

What NASA should do is build the kind of infrastructure that private enterprise needs to explore the Moon, the asteroids, and Mars. Build a communications network. Put communications satellites behind the Moon. Set up radiation monitors that private tourists trips will need to monitor solar and cosmic radiation. And even here, the model should be that used in the west with the transcontinental railroad, where the government hired private companies to do the work for it.

I need to think about this more. This needs to be written up properly.

In thinking about it, however, I completely rejected my initial response, and Edward’s suggestion. The infrastructure that the federal government needs to build in space has nothing to do with physical objects. This is the mistake everyone has been making for decades. In my op-ed I argue for something else entirely, and I hope the Trump administration is listening.

Stay tuned. When the Federalist op-ed gets posted I will post the url here immediately.

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Capitalism in Space:
Private Enterprise and Competition Reshape the Global Aerospace Launch Industry

After much delay and discussion, my policy paper for the Center for a New American Security, Capitalism in Space: Private Enterprise and Competition Reshape the Global Aerospace Launch Industry, has finally been published.

You can download the pdf here or at the Center here. Please feel free to distribute this widely. If you visit other websites please pass it on to them. This should be read by as many people as possible, especially since the space policy of the Trump administration remains at present undecided. This policy paper will help them work out a wise policy, with the paper’s key data point contained in this table:

SLS vs Commercial space

I document my numbers very carefully. The result illustrates clearly how much a failure the government model has been and continues to be. We have spent a lot of money since the 1970s on NASA and space, and have generally gotten very little for that investment, as demonstrated by the comparison between the accomplishments of private and government space in the past two decades. Going forward it is going to be very difficult for SLS/Orion to compete with the heavy lift rockets coming from SpaceX and Blue Origin.

My concluding words:
» Read more

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Off to Belize

Today, Wednesday, I head to the airport to return to the western regions of Belize for a week of cave exploration and mapping. Last time I was there in May we began a cave survey. I am now the cartographer for this project, and this time I hope we can finish it.

I intend to post while in Belize, though it will likely have to wait until each evening when we get back from the caves. I also intend to do my Batchelor appearances, but this time live from Mayan Mountain Lodge in San Ignacio, where we will be staying. The lodge was gracious enough in May to let me use their office and phone, and I expect they will be agreeable again this time.

Anyway, off for more adventure. The world is much too fascinating a place to see it just from my desk by way of the internet. You have to get out and see it for real whenever you can!

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Birthday bleg time again!

As you can obviously see, I have placed my annual request for donations or subscriptions to Behind The Black at the top of the page. It is February, and it is once again time to hold my annual birthday fundraising campaign.

Please consider donating or subscribing to the website. Every dollar helps, even if it is as little as a $2 monthly subscription. Not only will those contributions help me continue my independent reporting, it will keep the commenting feature of this webpage alive, which many of my readers have discovered to be a refreshing place to civilly discuss the issues of the day, without rancor or insults.

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In Santa Barbara

I am now in Santa Barbara, California. Tomorrow I drive up to Vandenberg Air Force to give a lecture for the local chapter of the AIAA. This is why posting today and tomorrow will be light. I might get some posts in later tonight, but don’t expect a lot. When I return I plan on an essay on the subject of squealing pigs.

I will let my readers guess as to the subject matter. I suspect many of you will be able to.

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Upcoming lectures

Since one of my readers asked about my future speaking appearances, I thought I’d note them here, on the main page. I will be speaking at three different venues in the next month, as follows:

The first is open to the public, but there is a $10 admission fee to the park. While the last two are free and also open to the public, I do not know what the public must do to gain access to the middle event at Vandenberg Air Force Base, as the location I think will be inside the base.

As always, all my appearances, including these, are listed in the right column below.

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Good distractions

My posting this week has been somewhat slack, mostly because I am trying to finish up a caving monograph for a survey project that has been on-going for the past five years. I have also been swamped with the very last changes to my policy paper for the Center for New American Security, which now has the title Capitalism in Space: Private Enterprise and Competition reshape the Global Aerospace Launch Industry. (I am hoping that title causes a few liberal heads to explode when the paper is released in the coming days.) I am also off on another cave project this weekend, so I will not be posting again until Sunday night.

Hopefully, things will ease up next week. In the meantime, enjoy your weekends and do not get too depressed over the insanity and madness that appears to be taking over our society.

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Upcoming lecture in Illinois

For those of my readers who happen to live in Illinois, I will be giving a lecture on Tuesday, October 4, 2016 at 6:00 pm in Urbana, Illinois to the University of Illinois at Urbana student chapter of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

My topic: Predicting the future of space travel, based on the past.

Abstract:

What shall the future of space exploration be like? Will the United States continue to dominate? Or will other nations move to the forefront and eclipse the present generation of American and Russian pioneers? Moreover, will the next travelers to other worlds go to the Moon or the asteroids? Or will they head straight to Mars, as some passionately advocate?

Predicting the precise chronology of these future events, ALL of which are inevitable, is certainly impossible. However, human history does repeat itself, and a close and objective look at history can give us a fairly good idea of what will happen in the future. This is especially important in the context of the federal government’s present budget problems and how they will influence future events.

In his lecture, Robert Zimmerman will outline a few examples of past exploration — both famous as well as obscure — and use these stories to show that the path we are on today is actually heading in a direction that few expected or predicted only a few years ago.

The actual location will be in the Talbot Laboratory, 104 S Wright St, Urbana, IL 61801.

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Leaving Belize tomorrow

After a week of intense and amazing caving, I will be leaving Belize tomorrow. I will not get home until Saturday, however, as my flight ends in El Paso at about 11 pm. I will drive home on Saturday.

I intend to post several essays about my trip, one describing the caving and why it is happening, one describing the ruins and my impressions (with photos), and maybe a third with my overall thoughts about the experience. Since I have a lot of other work that needs to be done, some with deadlines, it might take a few days to pump all this out. Stay tuned.

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On the radio from Belize

I will be doing my Tuesday night podcast on John Batchelor, live Tuesday at 11:00 pm Eastern. We did a test phone call tonight and confirmed that the connection is good. I expect I will talk a bit about what I am doing here in Belize, as well as some of the space stuff going on the last few days and posted on Behind the Black.

I will also post the podcast link once John Batchelor gets it uploaded.

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