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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.


2. Donate through Gabpay, using my email address zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

3. Patreon: Go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation.

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A look back at Virgin Galactic’s failed history

Link here. Doug Messier has probably provided the best news coverage of every up and down (mostly down) of Virgin Galactic since its beginning. As he notes at the beginning of his article:

A lot can happen in 18 years.

A mother can go from holding her newborn baby in her arms to sending her child off the college for the first time. In between, the child has learned to walk and talk, endured the rigors of puberty, and spent at least 13 years in school.

During that same time, Virgin Galactic essentially accomplished nothing, while wasting billions in private investment capital. Meanwhile, Richard Branson pumped and dumped, getting out when the getting was good and leaving others to hold the bag.

Definitely worth the read. The story of Virgin Galactic demonstrates the risks inherent in capitalism and freedom. Freedom allows for big dreams, but before you commit to any dream you better look it over very carefully or you might be burned.

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.


  • Col Beausabre

    It never ceases to amaze me that Branson is not in jail somewhere. As for Branson the person, my dad had an expression from his Texas upbringing, “All hat and no cattle”

  • pzatchok

    Can anyone say “US tax dodge”?

  • Mitch S.

    Hmm, comparing Virgin to NASA in the Apollo era is somewhat unfair.
    Apollo was a “cost is no object” “full speed ahead” project by the richest, most powerful nation.
    It also cost 3 lives (and by luck or the grace of G-d, didn’t cost more).
    The Shuttle also cost a tremendous amount and cost many more lives.

    Virgin is like so many companies started by a dreamer/entrepreneur that barely got off the ground (just look at the auto industry: Tucker, DeLorean, Bricklin, Fisker, all those flying cars etc etc).
    Where to draw the line between salesmanship and swindle I’ll leave to the lawyers.

    What has really altered our standard for a startup space company is SpaceX.
    Without SpaceX we’d be comparing Virgin to Blue Origin or NASA’s SLS -I suppose Rocket Lab would be a standout but they aren’t doing manned launches. New Shepard seems to be a more robust system but hasn’t flown anything more than demo flights either.

    I’m not saying that Virgin hasn’t been a disappointment. It seemed so promising at the beginning. The air launch spaceplane idea seemed so sensible. It was something that’s been done before (x-planes, particularly the X15), Burt Rutan was behind it and Space Ship One was successful. (And Virgin’s spaceship didn’t look like a penis!) Maybe with better management they could have made it happen, or maybe the business model is broken.
    They are still trying so we’ll see.

    I think the key to SpaceX is Musk. He has engineering background, thinks like an engineer , has tech interest and enthusiasm along with entrepreneurial drive. Branson and Bezos are just entrepreneurs and businessmen. You never see and interview with them like the tours Musk gives of Space X .

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