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I am now running my annual July fund-raising campaign to celebrate the twelfth anniversary of the establishment of Behind the Black. For many reasons, mostly political but partly ethical, I do not use Google, Facebook, Twitter. These companies practice corrupt business policies, while targeting conservative websites for censoring, facts repeatedly confirmed by news stories and by my sense that Facebook has taken action to prevent my readers from recommending Behind the Black to their friends.


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An antenna used to orient a Progress freighter during docking, launched today to ISS, has failed to deploy.

An antenna used to orient a Progress freighter during docking, launched today to ISS, has failed to deploy.

Though astronauts can manually dock the spacecraft, they still need proper radar data to gauge its location, spin, orientation, speed, and distance. If the remaining four antennas cannot provide all this information, it will be very dangerous to try a docking.

A problem like this has not happened on a Progress freighter in literally decades. When I consider the spate of other recent failures experienced by the Russian space industry, I can’t help wondering whether they have developed an overall quality control problem.

Update: Russian mission control said today that even if they cannot solve the deployment failure and get the antenna working it will not prevent a docking with ISS on Friday.

I tend to believe them. With four other antennas plus additional radar equipment on ISS it does seems reasonable that there is sufficient redundancy to allow the docking to proceed. Also, considering the Russians past problems with collisions on Mir, I would expect them to be very careful about proceeding if they had any doubts.

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.


  • Dick Eagleson

    I’m going to go way out on a limb, here, and give that question an answer of Yes!

    Lets hope the rot is restricted to Russia. If the contagion spreads to Ukraine, our friends at Sea Launch and Orbital can look forward to a bleak future of iffy major subsystems and too-frequent losses of mission. Not a pleasant prospect.

  • We’ve seen what happens when space station personnel try to dock freighters manually without proper guidance. I wouldn’t want to be around anyone trying to do so.

  • It’s funny that we’re still in the era of single point failure spaceflight.

  • The average automobile has many single-failure points, and we’ve been building them far longer. Engineering is the art of balancing probabilities.

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