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August 7, 2020 Zimmerman/Finding Genius podcast

The podcast Finding Genius with Richard Jacobs has now posted an hour-long interview he did of me about a week ago. It is available here.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


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.


All editions available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors. The ebook can be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner. Note that the price for the ebook, $3.99, goes up to $5.99 on September 1, 2022.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • LocalFluff

    I think that the plans for retrieving samples from Mars need to be addressed more. Because it’s a stupid plan! Perseverance spreading out the sample all over the place is crazy. They should be collected and put on a flat area where a lander has easy access.

    And docking the samples with a “Mars Orbital Earth Return vehicle” is madness. I mean, some guy really sat down and thought that up in crazy mood. Better to dock the spacecraft with a separately launched upper stage in Earth orbit, so that enough mass can be landed on Mars to bring the stuff back in one fell swoop. I get this feeling of NASA willingly complicating things just because they enjoy working with complexity. But this is not a chess game for entertainment, they need to do this rationally.

  • Edward

    I agree that it could be a waste of a rover to run around gathering up samples from areas that another rover has already explored. Wouldn’t it have been better for Perseverance to have its own sample launcher?

    Just as there is not much difference between docking around the Earth or docking around the Moon, docking around Mars should also not be a problem. Automated rendezvous-and-docking is already well understood, so it can be performed in orbit around any body, near or far.

    As you noted, bringing the stuff back in one fell swoop, a direct return, would require quite a bit more mass to be landed on Mars, mass that could be better spent on experiments and instrumentation. Mars orbit rendezvous means that the fuel required to leave Mars orbit does not have to be lifted from the surface, and it also does not have to be delivered to the surface. When NASA increases the weight delivered to the Martian surface, the landing system gets more complicated, to the point that JPL considered that landing Curiosity was seven minutes of terror. It seems to me that rendezvous around Mars is no more complicated than around Earth, but landing the extra mass on Mars would be more complicated.

    To put an image in your head, it was believed that a version of Apollo that was a direct flight to the Moon would require an Atlas-sized lander (almost 100 feet). With the lunar orbit rendezvous plan, the lander and Command-Service module were significantly smaller (around 60 feet, including the manned ascent module). Mars may have an atmosphere for an aerobraking reentry, but then it also has a higher gravity, with double the delta-v, relative to the Moon, required to get into low orbit, so the ratio for the sizes of the lander/return vehicles, combined, would be about the same, around 1/2 of a direct return vehicle.

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