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.

Boeing is about to begin environmental tests on a new composite fuel tank for rockets.

The competition heats up: Boeing is about to begin environmental tests on a new composite fuel tank for rockets.

Tanks made of composite materials have been a dream of space engineers for decades. Lockheed Martin tried to build them for the X-33, and their failure was essentially what killed that spacecraft. If Boeing is successful here and the composite tanks can then be put into a variety of launch rockets, the savings in weight will lower the cost of getting payloads to orbit significantly.


I must unfortunately ask you for your financial support because I do not depend on ads and rely entirely on the generosity of readers to keep Behind the Black running. You can either make a one time donation for whatever amount you wish, or you sign up for a monthly subscription ranging from $2 to $15 through Paypal or $3 to $50 through Patreon.

Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

Your support is even more essential to me because I not only keep this site free from advertisements, I do not use the corrupt social media companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook to promote my work. I depend wholly on the direct support of my readers.

You can provide that support to Behind The Black with a contribution 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

Or you can donate by using Zelle through your bank. You will need to give my name and email address (found at the bottom of the "About" page). The best part of this electronic option is that no fees will be deducted! What you donate will be what I receive.


  • I have the privilege to work at Boeing Tukwila and witness some composite work underway there. Proud to have contributed to these efforts. Let’s hope these efforts bear fruit!

  • More thoughts

    I would hope the state-of-the-art on composite structures would dramatically improve, especially since the Dreamliner has significant composite structures.

    LM had a rather challenging task since the LH2 tank for the X-33 had multiple lobes, which only increased the complexity. Turns out the Al-Li equivalent tank did work and was lighter than the composite version.

  • Kelly Starks

    There have been composite fuel tanks before, and there’s no reason I can think of to think they would have a impact on cost?

    Agree about the X-33’s multiple lobe tank design made it unsuitable for composites, and it would require a huge autoclave for the better composite materials. Given NASA (and the market) has assured them there was no interest in production vehicles of that type, they were not interested in eating the cost for a big autoclave, for composite tanks that would just add weight compared to the Al-Li equivalent tank. The cheaper composite didn’t work, and NASA used it as a excuse to kill the program and argue the prohram proved SSTO’s and RLV’s were technically impossible.


  • S Cooper

    The X-33 like too many programs was never intended to build a ship. It’s purpose was to provide a nifty painting of a ship that the politicians could brag about and get camera time, and then cut the budget when the cameras had moved on. They didn’t really need engineers, all they needed was an art department. I don’t know if it is a result of budget cuts or the artists are bored and just mailing it in but I was disappointed by the art for the SLS. All they did was cut and paste a pair of Shuttle SRBs onto a Saturn 5.

  • I think the reason you (and the artists) were bored with the SLS artwork is that we all know it is a complete lie, that these images are not of what will be but of what will never happen.

  • In the late ’90’s I worked for an engineering company that did work at various Boeing plants in the Seattle area. I’d sometimes find myself watching the manufacturing processes rather than doing my work. Fascinating stuff.

  • Kelly Starks

    > The X-33 like too many programs was never intended to build a ship. …..

    Worse then that. Oh NASA was Ok if it resulted in a little X-craft, but went nuts when L/M offered to skip their fees and just go ahead and develop a fully functional production prototype VentureStar shuttle. CATS is a near death sentence for NASA, and they made it very clear they would NEVER except such a thing or support it.

    As for why Constellation/SLS looks so much like Apollo’s capsule and Sat-V’s in illustrations, is become that’s whats its designed for, to look like Apollo era gear. The high cost and nostalgia (hopefully generating more public enthusiasm and support ) of Apollo was the primary goal. Shuttles routine operation, and potentially low cost abilities, were seen by Griffin as a major threat to voter support for NASA. Constellation/SLS was the solution. Few spectacular launches, far higher costs to distribute among voter blocks, etc.

    The publics reaction to the Apollo like illustrations was a universal yawn. No doubt a shock to Griffin.


  • Kelly Starks

    Come to think of Mars 1 just a pretty picture to scam folks for money? You certainly couldn’t possibly do what they are outlining as their plan, or what is illustrated.

    Oh well, as long as you get good “wallpaper” shots for PC desktops.


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 *