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.

British test satellite uses net to capture target

A British test satellite has successfully used a net to capture a cubesat target, demonstrating the technology that someday could be used to clean space junk from Earth orbit.

“It worked just as we hoped it would,” said Prof Guglielmo Aglietti, director of the Surrey Space Centre. “The target was spinning like you would expect an uncooperative piece of junk to behave, but you can see clearly that the net captures it, and we’re very happy with the way the experiment went.”

If this were a real capture, the net would be tethered to the deploying satellite, which would then tug the junk out of the sky. As this was just a demonstration, the net and the box (which was actually pushed out from RemoveDebris to act as a target) will be allowed to fall to Earth on their own. Their low altitude means it should take only a couple of months before they burn up in the atmosphere.

I have embedded below the fold a video showing the net capture. It is quite spectacular. This was one of three different experiments on RemoveDebris that are testing space junk removal methods. The next is the use of a harpoon.


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  • wodun

    So now, there is space debris with a net wrapped around it. Considering the expense, you think they would have included something to test the second part of what is required.

  • Edward

    These tests are more along the lines of proof of concept rather than a system test. It looks like the net worked as desired, not leaving more debris (i.e. not leaving broken satellite outside the net) than they were trying to eliminate.

    To do a system test would have required a larger, more expensive satellite. According to the article, the tests are being performed low enough that the satellites will reenter within a few months, so they are not leaving hazardous debris in orbit.

    Once they know which concepts work, they can then concentrate the second part of the process on that or those methods. Proof of concept tests want to be relatively inexpensive, because if the concept does not work then not much has been wasted.

  • Mitch S

    The video notes:
    “The cubesat is left to deorbit at an accelerated rate”.
    So that seems to be the mechanism to eliminate the debris.

    I’m not clear on the balloon deployed by the cubesat.
    Was the sat equipped with the balloon so it would deorbit in case the net missed?
    Anyway it’s cool the way the sat seems to struggle like a bug caught in a spider’s web.

  • Edward

    Mitch S,
    My understanding is that the balloon idea, the “drag sail” was to passively accelerate the deorbit of debris. I do not know whether the intention is for the harpoon to be on a tether so that the harpooned test article deorbits along with the mother satellite, but my recollection from previous news of this test satellite is that the “drag sail” is intended to assist reentry and destruction without the complication or expense of retrograde rockets.

    The less expensive that it is to remove junk from space, the more likely and faster that junk will be removed.

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