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.

A news story today reports that cracks have been discovered in the wings of WhiteKnightTwo.

More problems for Virgin Galactic: A news story today reports that cracks have been discovered in the wings of WhiteKnightTwo.

Sources tell me the cracks are along the spars that run the length of the wings. Specifically, they are located where the spars connect with the fuselage. My sources tell me the cracks have caused quite a bit of concern among the engineers at Virgin and Scaled. One particularly worrisome aspect is that nobody knows why or when they occurred.

I’m told there is some comfort in the repairs being made based on previous Scaled experience in patching composites. However, since the cause of the cracks is uncertain and WhiteKnightTwo is unique in terms of its size and the stresses placed on it by SpaceShipTwo, the engineers are in uncharted territory. They don’t know if they have addressed the root cause, or whether the problem will reoccur.

If this story turns out to be trie, it will likely be a disaster for Virgin Galactic. Not only can they not yet fly SpaceShipTwo because of engine issues, the mother ship that puts the spacecraft into the air can’t fly either.


In order to remain completely independent and honest in my writing, I accept no sponsorships from big space companies or any political organizations. Nor do I depend on ads.

Instead, I rely entirely on the generosity of readers to keep Behind the Black running. You can either make a one time donation for whatever amount you wish, or you sign up for a monthly subscription ranging from $2 to $15 through Paypal, or $3 to $50 through Patreon, or any amount through Zelle.

The best method to donate or subscribe is by using Zelle through your internet bank account, since it charges no fees to you or I. You will need to give my name and email address (found at the bottom of the "About" page). What you donate is what I get.

To use Patreon, go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation.

For PayPal click one of the following buttons:


Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If these electronic payment methods don't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to

Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652


  • wodun

    Not good news considering how little it is used.

  • wade

    This is a major setback in time consuming studies of just what did cause the cracks and the conditions that induced them

  • Pzatchok

    Just because its made of composite, polymer carbon fiber or Some other new fangled substance does not make it magical.

    Voids in laminates are a major problem in manufacturing them. Its the main reason that autoclaves are used to cure them. The autoclave uses pressure to squeeze out the air bubbles.
    Which is fine for parts that fit into the autoclave. But when you have to stick two large parts together and together they do not fit into the autoclave then you have almost no way to remove the voids and have to rely on hand application to hope the voids can get squeezed out.
    And I can guarantee you that there are always voids in joints like this. All you can do is make the joint far larger than the models say you need to and hope that its enough to compensate.

    They know what caused the cracks. They just don’t know exactly what event started them. Stress. Stress if takeoff, or landing, or releasing the space ship, or landing with the spaceship. or excessive turbulence in flight.
    In any event it was stress and that is not something they can avoid. So now they have to both repair the cracks and beef up the joints in some way.

    They are not flying this year.
    And they are not going to be carrying any superstars to space. The superstars insurance companies will not let them. Do you really think that Brad Pits insurance company wants to risk a billion dollar payout on some joy ride?

  • joe

    I think if these cracks run perpendicular to the length of the spar that I would never trust any repair to that spar, if indeed these cracks run longways with the spar that may be it could be voids with the adhesives, maybe not so bad, with all that is known with composits and with Burt Rutan’s reputation, I am surprised at this outcome. Perhaps some refinements to this airframe are in order, tis the nature of EXPERIMENTAL aircraft.

  • Pzatchok

    If the cracks in any way or direction go all the way through the material then forget it. That whole section needs replacement.

    If its just a few layers of material that are delaminating or cracking then they can be repaired pretty well and more than likely made even stronger in the end.

    The fact that they are trying to gloss over it does not look good. If it was something small and easily fixed they would just fix it and move on telling all potential customers everything. But this has the beginnings of a coverup.

  • Kelly Starks

    Virgin reportedly said they are NOT cracks, merely glue delaminating. This is likely true, since given the spar is the prime structural element holding the wings on – you couldn’t just repair it if it was cracked.

  • Pzatchok

    De-laminating layers is caused by air bubbles between the layers.

    They do not glue the sections together so much as melt them together. Just like model glue. It liquifies the surface a little and allows the two parts to ‘mix’ together creating a very strong bond. Almost a single piece.
    Unless there is air keeping the two parts from touching.

    They will have to grind off the delaminating area and add on new material. If possible due to space limitations.

Readers: the rules for commenting!


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


However, name-calling and obscenities will not be tolerated. First time offenders who are new to the site will be warned. Second time offenders or first time offenders who have been here awhile will be suspended for a week. After that, I will ban you. Period.


Note also that first time commenters as well as any comment with more than one link will be placed in moderation for my approval. Be patient, I will get to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.