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.

Another Starship/construction update at Boca Chica

Link here.

The successfully flown fifth Starship prototype has been moved back to its assembly area while the sixth is now on the launchpad being prepped for its own hop. At the same time, the buildings that will be used for all future ship assembly are going up, as well as construction of the launchpad for Super Heavy, the first stage of this giant reusable rocket.

It appears that SpaceX is going to be alternating hops between prototypes 5 and 6, while it preps prototypes 8 and 9. The use of two alternating prototypes not only speeds testing of the vehicle itself, it also speeds testing of the procedures the company will need for transporting these vehicles about, from the assembly building to the launchpad and then from the landing site back to the assembly building.

Except another hop in mere weeks of Starship prototype #6. As for Super Heavy, the article notes this:

What can be confidently assumed is SpaceX is preparing the facility groundwork for the first assembly and testing of Super Heavy by 2021.

Test programs and new vehicles will always stretch schedules. However, there remains the distinct possibility SpaceX could launch their first Super Heavy rocket before the Space Launch System (SLS – the orange one) is due to conduct her maiden launch at the end of next year. [emphasis mine]

Even if Super Heavy does not fly before SLS, I am very confident in predicting that the SpaceX rocket will fly many more times than SLS, and do it not as an expendable rocket but reused each time.


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  • LocalFluff

    The first stage, the Super Heavy prototype, is still even to be manufactured. But I’d bet it’ll fly before November 2021 even if SLS keeps that date. Even if SLS flies as scheduled (hahaha!), and the Super Heavy + Starship combination isn’t ready by then, only small parts of SLS will reach 150 meters (or 500 feet if we stack 250 US/British people on top of each other with their legs crossed, or however you measure things) as SLS explodes spectacularly on the launch pad. And finally liberates NASA from that burden.

    Isn’t SpaceX negating its reusability concept by producing so many rockets to quickly? why even care to reuse them?If they build a new one every two weeks, why wait two years for one to come back from Mars?

  • Dick Eagleson

    Looking at the linked story on I spied two tweets just in from Elon Musk.

    The first says: “Raptor engine just reached 330 bar chamber pressure without exploding!”

    That’s 10% above the “aspirational” max chamber pressure originally specified as a goal back in late 2018/early 2019.

    The second says: “SN40 is about to be tested & has several upgrades over 330 bar engine. For reference, 330 bar on Raptor produces ~225 tons (half a million pounds) of force.”

    The “tons” Elon is referring to here are actually metric tons (tonnes) rather than English unit tons. A tonne = 2204.62262 lb.

    Raptor is being hot-rodded above its original spec just as Merlin has been. A Super Heavy with 31 of the 330-bar Raptors would crank out just over 15-3/8 million lb. of thrust. The 330-bar upgrade already seems to have made up more than half the original distance between Raptor’s initial spec of 440,000 lbs. and the BE-4’s 550,000 lbs. One presumes SN40, with its “several upgrades,” will further close the remaining gap.

    As to the article author’s notion of a first Super Heavy hop in 2021, I think that could happen in 4Q 2020. The Super Heavy High Bay looks to be, at most, two weeks from completion. There may well already be simple Super Heavy sub-assemblies – units of three or four stacked tankage rings perhaps – waiting to be stacked in the High Bay once it is ready to support work. It would make sense for the additional needed Super Heavy components to be fabricated and/or delivered on a schedule that would allow the first SH test article to be ready at the same time the launch mount under construction would be complete. Initial tests, as with Starship, would probably be done with a small subset of a full engine complement with more being added as testing proceeds.

    Fun times!

  • David Eastman

    Localfluff, you’ve been a commenter here for a long time. Have you actually been reading any of the posts and linked articles? The whole concept of the SuperHeavy/Starship stack, and the plan for fleets of them departing to Mars in massive convoys, has been covered in detail. But to recap: SuperHeavy/Starship will use much of it’s fuel getting to orbit. It will does not have nearly the dV required to go from Earth surface to Mars surface. So a Starship that is destined for Mars is launched, and the SuperHeavy goes back to land, picks up a Starship tanker version full of fuel, and comes back to transfer that fuel. As I recall, it’s 6 tanker flights for one Mars departure. Depending on how the logistics work out, it might turn out that the best option is to launch a tanker, fill it up with 6 more tankers, then launch the cargo or crew Starship, dock with the full tanker, and then depart. That would be 8 launches for one departure ship. And Elon Musk envisions launching whole pods of Starships to Mars at each departure window, so if you want to send say 100 Starships to Mars, that’s a total of around 800 launches in a matter of months. THAT is why they are right now figuring out not how to make Starship, but how to make the assembly line that will make a Starship a week.

  • Edward

    LocalFluff asked: “Isn’t SpaceX negating its reusability concept by producing so many rockets to quickly? why even care to reuse them?If they build a new one every two weeks, why wait two years for one to come back from Mars?

    Building quickly does not negate reuse. Boeing builds several aircraft each week, but they are reused.

    Bringing Starships back from Mars allows for three things: 1) Return from Mars. Keeping a trip to Mars from being one way is desirable. If Disneyland’s Mission To Mars ride/show/attraction had been only one way, would many people have gone on it? 2) Returning Starships from Mars or other destinations allows for them to be reusable, allowing for amortization of manufacturing costs over several missions, reducing the cost of each mission. 3) Reusing Starships allows for manufacturing rates to eventually be reduced so that resources can be redirected to the next SpaceX project.

    Being able to put resources where they do the most good is the advantage of reusability.

  • john hare

    I’ll offer to bet a small sum that Starship flight two happens before SLS fight two. Much safer prediction.

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