Leaving Earth cover

In 2019 I obtained from my former publisher the last 30 copies of the now out-of-print hardback of Leaving Earth. I sold about half of these, and with only a handful left in stock I have raised the price. To get your own autographed copy of this rare collector's item please send a $75 check (includes $5 shipping) payable to Robert Zimmerman to

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

I will likely raise the price again when only ten books are left, so buy them now at this price while you still can!

Also available as an inexpensive ebook!

Leaving Earth: Space Stations, Rival Superpowers, and the Quest for Interplanetary Travel, can be purchased as an ebook everywhere for only $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit.


Winner of the 2003 Eugene M. Emme Award of the American Astronautical Society.

"Leaving Earth is one of the best and certainly the most comprehensive summary of our drive into space that I have ever read. It will be invaluable to future scholars because it will tell them how the next chapter of human history opened." -- Arthur C. Clarke

A Texas-based company has printed the first 3D-printed metal pistol, a 45 caliber Model 1911.

A Texas-based company has printed the first 3D-printed metal pistol, a 45 caliber Model 1911.

Video below the fold. The gun clearly functions, though I noticed that in the video they never loaded more three rounds in a magazine, and that the gun seems to cycle weakly. I suspect that they had some feeding problems when they tried to fire a full loaded five round magazine.

Nonetheless, this achievement further illustrates that 3D printing is about to become a major method of manufacture.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit.


  • Pzatchok

    It looks like it was sticking in the full back position. That is indicative of a weak main spring or bad fitting parts. Both easily fixed.

    They did say that the beaver tail safety, the springs, the magazine and the barrel are all purchased parts and not made by them with their laser system.

    Basically they made all the parts that could have been made out of polymer like on a Glock or M&P out of metal instead.

    Nice proof of concept though. The gun even looked pretty good to.

  • Tom Billings

    Dr. John Lewis has been advocating for some time that space-based industry use 3-d Laser Chemical Vapor Deposition (LCVD) printing, with metal carbonyls as the stock material. They could use native Nickel/Iron bits as their starting point, and the Mond Process should make those into Iron Pentacarbonyl and Nickel Tetracarbonyl easily. Most larger carbonyl-sourced CVD pieces here on Earth are done with molds. The process can give nice dense strong solid pieces.It would be interesting to see an LCVD-produced gun, and compare them with the Laser-sintered from metal powder gun. LCVD *might* produce a good barrel, even. I understand that the problems with metal carbonyl toxicity restricts such applications here in an atmosphere, where the carbonyls can build up around the equipment using them as stock. I wonder if LCVD would have as many toxicity problems down here.

    In the vacuum of Space that toxicity isn’t a problem, since escaping carbonyls will quickly crack into carbon monoxide and metal dust. LCVD in those situations could provide much of what is needed for many applications. I believe that it may provide an interesting composite as well. The Carbonaceous Chondrite asteroids can not only provide all the element combos needed for the Mond Process, but their Carbon can be used to make graphene. In simple graphene nano-platlets, graphene is being already experimented with for stiffening and strengthening both plastic and metal composites. Now that large graphene sheets can be produced, according to Columbia University’s team, with 90 percent of the strength of the platelets, that could make LCVD deposited metal matrix material for space structures with far better characteristics than we can make them here.

  • Prokop Hapala

    Hello, I’m quite interested in Laser Chemical Vapor Deposition (LCVD) 3D printer of metal carbonyls. I was just googling on this topic, and only meaningful page what I found was your post. Can you please give me some references (web page, paper DOI or something) on this topic?
    Thank you

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