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.

Apollo 11 lunar ascent stage might still be in orbit around the Moon

New data about the Moon’s interior and gravitational field suggest that the Apollo 11 lunar ascent stage, the part of the LM that carried the astronauts back from the Moon, might still be in orbit around the Moon, rather than have crashed into its surface as long assumed.

Using the GRAIL gravity model and the General Mission Analysis Tool (GMAT) simulator, Meador expected to find the LM’s orbit destabilizing very quickly. What he found – and was verified by a third party using different methods – was that the Ascent Stage had a feedback mechanism that caused the orbit to stabilize itself over a period of every 24 days. When he ran the simulation forward, the orbit remained stable until the present day.

The upshot of this is that the Ascent Stage may still be in orbit now and could be observed when it is in the right position in relation to the Earth and the Sun. However, Meador emphasizes that the LM was never intended to be very robust. Designed to operate for only about 10 days, it was also filled with batteries and fuel tanks, which could have exploded years ago, either destroying the craft or sending it off on a new trajectory.

If the stage is in lunar orbit, than it probably is one the most valuable and quickly reachable artifacts from one of space’s most historic missions. While the Apollo artifacts left on the Moon should be left where they are, this piece could be recaptured and returned to Earth for both study and exhibition.

In fact, if it is still in orbit it should be recovered, to preserve it.

This data also suggests that other Apollo ascent stages as well as other past lunar orbiters might also still be in lunar orbit, and should be located.


My July fund-raising campaign for 2021 has now ended. Thank you all for your donations and subscriptions. While this year’s campaign was not as spectacular as last year’s, it was the second best July campaign since I began this website.

And if you have not yet donated or subscribed, and you think what I write here is worth your support, you can still do so. I depend on this support to remain independent and free to write what I believe, without any pressure from others. Nor do I accept advertisements, or use oppressive social media companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook. I depend wholly on the direct support of my readers.

If you choose to help, you can contribute via Patreon or PayPal. 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 Patreon or Paypal 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


  • Gary in Transit

    We obviously have tracked various craft orbiting the moon and have not detected any ascent stages.

    How could these craft be detected and orbits plotted?

  • Chris Whiting

    While the LEM upper stages would be major artifacts for the Smithsonian and other museums, and they absolutely should be preserved if possible, there is one issue that appears insurmountable regarding their recovery. The issue is not getting them out of lunar orbit, but getting them back to Earth through reentry.

    The LEM’s were built as light as possible, and they likely could not survive even a parachute recovery in the atmosphere, much less the forces and heat of reentry. Without the Space Shuttle, it does not appear that there is any available vehicle that could stow them during reentry.

    A new vehicle would need to be designed and built for that specific purpose. Hello Elon or Jeff?

  • Due to “masscons” (mass concentrations) on the Moon, lunar orbits are not stable — unless one happens to be orbiting in one of the 4 “frozen orbit” inclinations (27°, 50°, 76°, and 86°). Since it seems unlikely that Apollo ascent stages utilized such orbital inclinations, how can one still be in lunar orbit?

  • Andi

    Chris – will it fit in the hold of a Starship?

  • Michael McNeil: I suggest you read the paper, provided at a link at the bottom of the article I link to. The mathis beyond me, but maybe it will help answer your questions.

  • Jeff Wright

    Chomper filled with foam to surround the ascent stage. Cut away at the foam block as you would a mammoth encased in ice….or any other fossil.

  • Jay

    I need to read this paper. I thought the orbit was too low to be stable as well. If Columbia is there, Andi is right, if Starship could bring it back, that would be a huge publicity boost to SpaceX and to the NASM.

  • concerned

    Scott Manley did a video on this topic about a week ago (sorry to link to the dark side):

    Chris Whiting: Elon is already on this– cargo Starship (“Chomper”) will be more than capable of gobbling up the LM and bringing softly back to Earth (in a few years of course, but if Eagle has lasted this long, it will last a few more years)

  • Chris Whiting noted: “The LEM’s were built as light as possible, . . ”

    That is very nearly an understatement. I read “Chariots For Apollo” (Pellegrino/Stoff, Scribner, 1985): check out Thriftbooks; the URL is way too long.

    You could easily put a hole in the LEM with an inadvertent kick. As I’ve noted, the more I learn about the space programs of the 60’s/70’s, the more I am amazed at something I grew up watching. ‘Star Trek’ was cool, and all, but NASA was real.

  • Col Beausabre

    If you want thin and flimsy, consider the SM-65 Atlas Missile

    “Atlas was unusual in its use of balloon tanks for fuel, made of very thin stainless steel with minimal or no rigid support structures. Pressure in the tanks provides the structural rigidity required for flight. An Atlas rocket would collapse under its own weight if not kept pressurized, and had to have 5 psi (34 kPa) nitrogen in the tank even when not fueled.. The only other known use of balloon tanks at the time of writing is the Centaur high-energy upper stage, although some rockets (such as the Falcon series) use partially pressure-supported tanks.”

    They wanted to wring every last bit of range and warhead throw-weight as possible (nuclear weapons, although having come down in size, were still large and heavy by later standards) from the missile

  • Col Beausabre related: “Pressure in the tanks provides the structural rigidity required for flight. An Atlas rocket would collapse under its own weight if not kept pressurized, and had to have 5 psi (34 kPa) nitrogen in the tank even when not fueled.. ”

    Thank you! I did not know that; and a Cool Fact. It sounds like a rocket-powered Zeppelin.

  • I was wondering why Scott Manley was the dark side. It took me a moment to realize you meant YouTube.

    Is there an alternative? I know some of my favorites, particularly Isaac Arthur, also post to Nebula. My computer can do that; my TV cannot.

    Which reminds me, my next computer must be able to “cast” – both sending and receiving.

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. Required fields are marked *