Conscious Choice cover

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.

 

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Blue Origin completes first commercial suborbital flight

New Shepard just prior to landing
New Shepard just prior to landing.

Capitalism in space: Blue Origin this morning successfully flew its first commercial suborbital flight using its New Shepard spacecraft, taking Jeff Bezos and four other passengers, one paying, to an altitude of 66.5 miles.

The flight lasted just over ten minutes.

I have embedded the video of the flight, cued to just before launch, below the fold. Try to ignore the blather of Blue Origin’s announcer, which fortunately mostly stops once the spacecraft passes 62 miles and enters space. At that point microphones from inside the capsule take over, and you get to hear the reaction of the passengers themselves.

A grand success for Blue Origin and Jeff Bezos. And another grand success for freedom and private enterprise.

Next up, the beginning of regular commercial orbital manned tourist flights, starting in September. Here is the present flight manifest:

  • September 2021: SpaceX’s Dragon capsule flies four private citizens on a three day orbital flight
  • October 2021: The Russians will fly two passengers to ISS to shoot a movie
  • December 2021: The Russians will fly billionaire Yusaku Maezawa and his assistant to ISS for 12 days
  • cDecember 2021: Space Adventures, using a Dragon capsule, will fly four in orbit for five days
  • January 2022: Axiom, using a Dragon capsule, will fly four tourists to ISS
  • 2022-2024: Three more Axiom tourist flights on Dragon to ISS
  • 2024: Axiom begins launching its own modules to ISS, starting construction of its own private space station
  • c2024: SpaceX’s Starship takes Yusaku Maezawa and several others on a journey around the Moon.


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25 comments

  • Shallow Minded Reader

    Yawn…

  • Chris Lopes

    Got up early (for me, I live in the Mountain time zone) to watch this. The presentation was better than Branson’s, but still infomercial level. The flight itself was awesome and watching a booster fly back never gets old. I kind of laughed at the “yahoos” and “wuhoos” when they reached space. That would have NEVER happened back in the 60’s. It really is a new era we’ve entered. Gonna be fun to watch.

  • V-Man

    Robert, minor bug: it’s Bezos and three passengers, not four. Four is the total crew.

    Overall a nice event, but BO has a lot to learn about presentation. Annoying commentary (yes, we know they’re going to be astronauts). No internal cabin views (but see below). Limited camera angles (we did get a downward one, occasionally). Compare to Demo-2 and you’ll see what I mean.

    I guess we didn’t get a live cabin feed to control the PR. Wouldn’t do to risk having the world’s richest man get space sickness live. Or, they reserve this to paying customers, such as news organizations?

  • David M. Cook

    Here‘s my perspective: Branson‘s flight equals Alan Shepard‘s suborbital lob. Bezos‘ flight equals Gus Grissom‘s. Musk‘s orbital flights seem more like John Glenn‘s feat, for commercial space.

  • Doubting Thomas

    OMG that woman NEVER shut up AND almost all the commentary was either self-evident or stupid.

    Why does Lex Luthor wear that cowboy hat? I live in Texas and I don’t wear a cowboy hat.

  • Mark

    I know this is off colour, but a female friend sent me this news headline with a laughing emoji. Sometimes you just have to laugh.
    ‘Jeff shoots off
    Jeff Bezos Phallic Rocket Ride Lasts Mere Minutes in Space’

  • Patrick Underwood

    Ha, she’s pretty annoying, isn’t she? :)

  • Col Beausabre

    I know this is off colour, but a female friend sent me this news headline with a laughing emoji. Sometimes you just have to laugh.
    ‘Jeff shoots off
    Jeff Bezos Phallic Rocket Ride Lasts Mere Minutes in Space’

    Your friend ain’t the only one, my one and only’s comment, “The combination of booster and capsule looks like a giant flying dildo”

    I really didn’t want to ask where she go her knowledge

  • Questioner

    This is what Jeff Bezos did while in space

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSY3gkPNs6I

  • Alan

    Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic are providing an amusement park ride, not space travel. Travel is when you go somewhere and stay for a few days or weeks. Calling Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson astronauts is like calling someone an electrician because they changed a light bulb.

    I find it hard to believe that providing an expensive amusement park ride will be a profitable business. Lowering the cost of putting satellites in orbit seems like a more sensible business.

  • Andi

    Pretty sure the reason for no live cabin feed was in case they didn’t make it back in one piece

  • Edward

    Alan wrote: “Calling Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson astronauts is like calling someone an electrician because they changed a light bulb.

    So Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom were not astronauts until they went to orbit?

    It isn’t so much the up, down, or zero G. It is the bragging rights. Right now, these bragging rights are worth a lot to the thousands of people who bid on New Shepard’s first amusement park ticket. I don’t see this changing until orbital rides become affordable to these same people.

    This may not be a sensible business, but very few would really match such a definition. Are amusement parks sensible? Is entertainment sensible? Certainly, restaurants aren’t, as we all can cook our own food for much less cost. A business need not be sensible. It only needs to produce something that people are willing to pay for.

    Clearly, this is something that We the People have wanted for decades, and now, thanks to freedom and liberty, we have it.

  • Chris Lopes

    “I find it hard to believe that providing an expensive amusement park ride will be a profitable business.”

    A guy named Disney seemed to do alright.

  • Doubting Thomas

    Edward – I have to quibble with a bit of your post.

    “Alan wrote: “Calling Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson astronauts is like calling someone an electrician because they changed a light bulb.” – So Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom were not astronauts until they went to orbit?”

    I think we all would agree that Shepard and Grissom were astronauts as a function of being skilled test pilots, selected and trained for years for the Mercury program who could take some control over the primitive early spacecraft they flew. Nobody on that New Shepard capsule had any ability to control the capsule and had a whopping 14 hours of training.

    I don’t get up from a passenger seat on plane from NYC to Rochester and declare that I am a pilot. In these early days we need to come up with some term that recognizes the rare status of having entered space. This seems especially important for the Inspirion orbital crew who will fly in the Fall.

  • Edward

    Doubting Thomas,
    I have to quibble with a bit of your post.

    You wrote: “I don’t get up from a passenger seat on plane from NYC to Rochester and declare that I am a pilot.

    There is a variety of types of astronaut, even in the NASA astronaut corps. The mission specialists likewise are not skilled test pilots. One department that I worked in had a scientist become an astronaut. He specialized in one particular experiment. Apparently, the astronauts on New Shepard had far more training to travel in that spacecraft than you had to travel in that plane.
    https://www.dictionary.com/browse/astronaut

    Indeed, it seems that space travel is not necessary to be an astronaut, just the training.

  • wayne

    speaking of Disney….

    Chris–
    I think the key thought might be, “an affordable amusement park ride.”
    I’ve never been to disney world/land, how much does it cost?

    Jordan Peterson
    “Disney Movies”
    https://youtu.be/eJFrXS3uGG0
    17:26

  • Jeff Wright

    I would have made this all about Funk, and would have boarded last…minus the hat.

  • mike shupp

    I don’t think “an affordable amusement park ride.” is quite the comparison Bezos and Branson intend. What comes to mind is BARNSTORMING.

    Think of 1921! Aviation is beginning, and you’re part of it! Get your freshly painted biplane out to the local airfield once a month on show days, you and a dozen ther guys, pick up a couple of bold would-be fliers for 20 bucks each — a lot of money, true, but there were people who could afford that for luxuries in 1921 — taxi them to the end of the runway, check their harnesses to be sure they’re buckled in, take off with a woosh!

    Climb to a thousand feet and give them a minute to look down (“Think you can see your friends from here? Think they can see you? Give ’em a wave!”). Then go up to 2000 feet so they enjoy The Real Thing (“Getting a bit cool isn’t it? Not just the wind; it really is cooler. And the air’s a bit thinner — if we went up much more, you’d want to be huffing on some oxygen bottles. One good thing, we’re higher than any bugs now — higher than the local birds as well. And you’ve got a view; Cedalia’s that way; look’s pretty close, but see how small thaat road is. We could be there in five minutes. What’s that in your Ford? Half an hour, forty minutes? Makes you want to buy your own plane, doesn’t it?”)

    And then back to the ground with your new aeronauts (“Flying lessons are cheap. luv. It’s landing lessons that are expensive.”) and you can look for another pair of passengers. Not big bucks really, but it pays for gas and the occasional repair, and By God, Aviation Is The Future Of The World! And You’ve Got To Show It To People!

    That’s spaceflight right now. Get people used to it, it may grow into something.

  • Doubting Thomas

    Edward – I thought about discussing Mission Specialists but decided against it for brevity sake. Of course Mission Specialists are not trained test pilots nor are their assignments to “fly” the space vehicles. However, they are selected for a set of skills & experience which can be refined by extensive training to carry out missions in space. They are flown as skilled crew members on missions to accomplish a set of tasks and objectives.

    I believe that are 2 defined categories of “astronauts” in NASA but effectively 3 groups: Astronaut candidates (in training whether scientists or pilots), Astronauts (those having completed training and wear a silver lapel pin)) and while still called Astronauts, a effective third category of flown astronauts who wear a gold lapel pin. If the person is a military pilot, in addition to the pin, their military “wings” they wear on their uniforms are updated with a symbol similar to the NASA swoop delta.

    Things are changing fast and as always, the language takes longer to catch up. Exciting times. Yes I would love to be a *** space adventurer*** on Branson’s or Bezo’s vehicles but not at the prices they have to charge.

    Thanks for the great conversation.

  • mkent

    I believe that are 2 defined categories of “astronauts”…

    What about payload specialists? Was Charlie Walker not an astronaut? He made three trips to orbit aboard the Space Shuttle.

  • Mark

    To all posters – just want to echo Doubting Thomas as he ends his post with ‘ Thanks for the great conversation’. I know most people use social media platforms, but for my money Behind the Black has one of the most informed and interesting group of posters around. Bravo Zulu to you all & Bob!

  • mike shupp … I think you’re onto something there, with equating these suborbital flights with barnstorming.

    And I think I know where “Cedalia” is at … about 20 miles east of Knob Noster; for years both were surrounded by dozens of suborbital launch vehicles of a different type. One of those vehicles was stored a mile away from my great uncle’s farm, for over thirty years.

  • Edward

    Doubting Thomas wrote: “I believe that are 2 defined categories of “astronauts” in NASA

    NASA may have split out various categories, but what about the U.S. Air Force? What about the rest of us? The dictionary has not split out a variety of categories, so when did the rest of us do so?

    Why must an astronaut who flies commercially be a “space adventurer?” What if he has a task, such as running an experiment that requires human operation so that it cannot be automated, thus cannot be flown on a regular sounding rocket? Is he still a space adventurer, or is he an astronaut? He did a job and had little time to be adventurous.

    mike shupp,
    Hopefully the barnstorming analogy is more symbolic than actual. Keep in mind that barnstorming also had terrible accidents that resulted in the founding of the FAA. Spaceflight is so young that we are bound to have some terrible accidents.

    So far, every spacecraft that has flown more than a dozen times (manned) has killed at least one crew by its 25th space flight. Dragon, New Shepard, SpaceShipOne, Starliner, and Starship have not yet flown that many times, manned, into space, but all are planned to do so. The only spacecraft that have not killed crew members have flown a dozen or fewer manned space flights.

    Until we get a lot more spaceflight experience, I think we should count on losing a lot more people in space, because just as with aircraft, that’s the deal.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXbdJ3kyVyU (7 minutes: Bill Whittle, “The Deal”)

  • Edward observed:

    “So far, every spacecraft that has flown more than a dozen times (manned) has killed at least one crew by its 25th space flight. Dragon, New Shepard, SpaceShipOne, Starliner, and Starship have not yet flown that many times, manned, into space, but all are planned to do so. The only spacecraft that have not killed crew members have flown a dozen or fewer manned space flights.”

    I would not discount the experience factor. The trope is that ‘every safety rule is written in blood’, and that’s a Real Thing. Edward notes that there is more blood to come, and that’s true, but maybe not so much as expected.

  • Edward

    Scott Manley has a video discussing whether Bezos and Branson can be called astronauts:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKx-QD5w9Ew (12 minutes)

    Even after a week of thinking on the topic, he also does not have a definitive definition.

  • Col Beausabre

    Don’t have a coupla million you don’t know what to spend on ?

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/news/while-the-wealthy-are-spending-millions-to-be-weightless-in-space-one-aviation-firm-is-selling-the-experience-on-earth-for-a-fraction-of-the-cost/ss-AAMOsMC?ocid=msedgdhp&pc=U531

    Of course, being weightless isn’t the point – it’s the bragging rights to say “I’ve been to space” – the same way people pay to climb Mount Everest

    https://www.amazon.com/Into-Thin-Air-Personal-Disaster/dp/0385494785/ref=asc_df_0385494785?tag=bingshoppinga-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=80676721523965&hvnetw=o&hvqmt=e&hvbmt=be&hvdev=c&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=&hvtargid=pla-4584276297586054&psc=1

    “A harrowing tale of the perils of high-altitude climbing, a story of bad luck and worse judgment and of heartbreaking heroism.”

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