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.

Bigelow proposes extending life of its ISS module beyond its two year demo

Bigelow Aerospace is in negotiations with NASA to allow use on ISS of its demonstration inflatable BEAM module beyond its planned two year test mission.

BEAM is designed for a two-year mission on the ISS. The module is closed off from the rest of the station most of the time, with astronauts periodically entering BEAM to check the status of the module and instruments mounted inside.

NASA has previously indicated that it would dispose of BEAM at the end of its two-year mission, using the station’s robotic arm to detach the module and allow it to burn up in the atmosphere. There are no immediate plans, though, for use of the docking port where BEAM is installed after that two-year mission ends, opening the possibility for an extended mission.

Robert Bigelow has previously suggested there was commercial interest in the module. As a NASA press conference in April 2016 prior to the launch of BEAM, he said there were four different groups, both countries and companies, interested in flying experiments in BEAM. “We’re hoping that, maybe in half a year or something, we can get permission from NASA to accommodate these people in some way,” he said then.

It is typical NASA behavior to throw this module out after two years, rather than find a way to use it.

Posted from a hotel room in St. Louis, Missouri.


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  • ken anthony

    Their behavior denotes their real mission… justify and spend a budget. Everything else is subordinate to that goal.

  • wayne

    ken– good stuff.

    Q: What percentage of the NASA budget is used for pure operating expenses?

  • Wayne asked, “What percentage of the NASA budget is used for pure operating expenses?”

    Too much.

  • wayne

    Yarrrrr. (That’s sorta what I thought.)

    But seriously– how much does it cost NASA to “turn the lights on” every day?
    How much of their (roughly) $20 billion/year budget, is available to actually spend on “stuff,” vs. all their fixed-costs and whatever else they do?

    “You guys are NASA” scene

  • Wayne: Someone would need to do a very detailed and careful analysis to answer your question. It has been done piecemeal for a variety of NASA departments, but as far as I know, no one has ever done it for the entire agency.

    My own rough guess would be that NASA spends about 60% for overhead.

  • wayne

    Thanks Mr. Z.

    I don’t expect NASA to run at a “profit” per-se, but 60% for overhead, is way too much.
    (and I realize “government-accounting” is its own specialty, and they have historically built a lot of one-off infrastructure.)

    I’ll do some digging myself into some of this…just thinking out loud.

    How much does a SpaceX , pay the government, to utilize government-owned infrastructure & services, for any given rocket launch? (I’m thinking ground-support & tracking

  • Edward

    Part of the difficulty in figuring out the overhead costs is determining just what is meant by the word.

    I have worked for companies that charged the government only for the people who worked directly on a project, and the secretaries, payroll, and other support staff were considered overhead. Thus the charge to the government customer was significantly more than my pay.

    I had a university customer, once (actually, it was the customer of the company I worked for), whose customer was the government, and at the university, everyone involved was directly charged to the government customer, including secretaries, etc. Thus the overhead charge was much less than charged by the company that I worked for at that time.

    With my limited experience in what is meant by overhead, I will agree with Robert’s guess of 60%, if various support staff are considered overhead, but I will guess that it is only half that, if facility construction, maintenance, lighting, etc. is what is considered overhead.

    I suspect that the long-time government-vendor companies (e.g. the famed military-industrial complex, and NASA and its vendors) use the first model in order to get along with each other’s accounting and auditing departments, but that universities tend to use the latter model, in order to look cheaper.

  • wodun

    @ Wayne

    Good question. I am not sure what government resources SpaceX uses on any given launch. Surely there are some. I did some brief googling and it was hard to find any information. There is probably something out there, either in the press or in an interview, at least what resources are used if not their costs.

    On Wikipedia and other sites that talked about SpaceX leasing NASA facilities, the price was never mentioned. It sounds like the lease allows SpaceX to maintain the launch sites and make renovations/improvements. But who knows what they pay NASA for the privilege? There are probably numbers out there someplace.

  • Vladislaw

    NASA space side gets about half the 20 billion? Aeronautics the the other half?

    10 NASA centers? One NASA insider once posted that the shuttle workforce cost almost 200 million a month. 2.4 billion if it flew or not…

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