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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:


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A quick analysis of the new Obama Space Policy

You can read it here, if you have a mind. It is filled with the typical go-gooder blather that you find in every policy statement produced by every politician and his or her policy wonks, from either party.

Nonetheless, the Obama policy is far different from the Bush policy. The Bush philosophy for NASA is probably best ipitomized by this speech by Mike Griffin, former NASA administrator during the Bush administration. The key quote:

I am convinced that leadership in the world of the 21st Century and beyond will go to the nation that seeks to fulfill the dreams of mankind. We know what motivates those dreams. Exploring new territory when it becomes possible to do so has defined human striving ever since our remote ancestors migrated out of the east African plains. The human imperative to explore new territories, and to exploit the resources of these territories, will surely be satisfied, by others if not by us. What the United States gains from a robust, focused program of human and robotic space exploration is the opportunity to define the course along which this human imperative will carry us.

In other words, the focus during the Bush years was to have the United States lead the way in exploring and colonizing the solar system, with NASA in charge.

The Obama philosophy in this new space policy is far less interested in exploration. Instead, the focus is on international cooperation and sharing the universe with everyone. Here is for me the key quote from the policy statement:

As established in international law, there shall be no national claims of sovereignty over outer space or any celestial bodies. The United States considers the space systems of all nations to have the rights of passage through, and conduct of operations in, space without interference. Purposeful interference with space systems, including supporting infrastruction, will be considered an infringement of a nation’s rights.

In other words, space is a communal farm, shared by everyone.

The sense I also get from reading the Obama policy is a focus not in pushing outward to explore the unknown, to go where no one has ever gone before, but on looking back at the Earth to make things on Earth better. Both the “Principles” and “Goals” as outlined in the Obama Policy (pages 2 and 3) say very little about exploration. Instead, the focus is on stimulating the world’s space industry in order to improve life on Earth. The proposal to send humans to an asteroid and eventually to Mars is listed near the end of the document, almost as an afterthought.

Some will like this new approach. Others will detest it. From my perspective, it is simply naive.

First of all, the fantasy that territory in space will remain communal property, unowned by any person or nation, is foolish. The space colonists who will go there to live are eventually going to tell us to go to hell, and will then set up their own nations — with property rights — if only to guarantee that they have the same rights that we here on Earth enjoy.

Second, the exploration of space is not being done to make life on Earth better. That is certainly a significant side benefit, but the people sweating to build new rockets and spaceships are not doing it for these reasons. They are doing it because they want to explore and colonize the solar system. And they are doing it because they want to make money at it.

In the end, the problem with establishing a policy that is not based on reality is that reality will eventually bite back. Just because the United States wants to play nice with everyone and share space with the rest of the world does not mean that the rest of the world will do the same. In fact, it almost guarantees that they won’t. Other nations are going to immediately try to fill the vacuum this Obama policy creates.

Unfortunately, for the near future things do not look good for the American effort in space.

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.

Readers: the rules for commenting!


No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.


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