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.


Europe’s BepiColumbo mission to Mercury threatened by COVID-19

Because of the strict rules and work suspensions imposed due to the Wuhan virus panic, there will be a reduced workforce during the April 10, 2020 fly-by of Earth by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) BepiColumbo Mercury mission.

The press release tries to make it sound like they are heroically working through the fly-by, but the truth is revealed far down in the text:

The operation, however, will be performed with limited personnel at ESA’s European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany, where engineers will have to comply with social distancing rules presently in place all over Europe as a response to the coronavirus pandemic. “The Earth swing-by is a phase where we need daily contact with the spacecraft,” says Elsa Montagnon, BepiColombo Spacecraft Operations Manager at ESA. “This is something that we cannot postpone. The spacecraft will swing by Earth independently in any case.”

The coronavirus threat forces the team to work with minimal face to face interaction while ensuring all steps in the process are properly covered. “During the critical two weeks prior to the closest approach, we need to upload safety commands to prepare the spacecraft for unexpected problems,” says Christoph Steiger, BepiColombo Deputy Spacecraft Operations Manager. “For example, we need to prepare the transfer module for the 34 minute-long eclipse when its solar panels will not be exposed to sunlight to prevent battery discharge.”

Operations can still be conducted as planned, he adds, but will require more effort and attention than in a normal situation. [emphasis mine]

I suspect that much of the software work is now being done remotely, but there is no doubt the inability to be present in the control room will prevent any quick fix, should the spacecraft need help during the fly-by.

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7 comments

  • Ray Van Dune

    “During the critical two weeks prior to the closest approach, we need to upload safety commands to prepare the spacecraft for unexpected problems,” says Christoph Steiger, BepiColombo Deputy Spacecraft Operations Manager. “For example, we need to prepare the transfer module for the 34 minute-long eclipse when its solar panels will not be exposed to sunlight to prevent battery discharge

    34-minute eclipse by Earth was certainly not unexpected! Typical total journo-clueless blather about software.

  • Lee S

    Hmmmmm…. Given the high speed internet available pretty much anywhere these days, I see no reason why mission controllers cannot “work from home”, the ESA has had many weeks to anticipate these kind of problems, and it’s not as if folks are shouting to each other from across controle rooms. Remote working should work just as well. If anything goes horribly wrong it will be down to lack of forward planning by upper management, and nothing directly to do with Corona.

  • Andi

    And they certainly should be able to use something like remote desktop for some of the more critical control consoles.

  • John

    I hope it crashes and burns, right where the sun don’t shine. And I’m not talking about the dark side of the terminator. Oh, can I go outside now, pretty please.

  • john hare

    Alternately, they could test/clear the group absolutely needed and sterilize the control room and a set of nearby apartments. If important enough, a few weeks of mission time treated like a deployment overseas.

  • David

    Lee, Andi,… Are you seriously suggesting that mission critical command consoles for a spacecraft passing near the Earth on an interplanetary trajectory are, and should be, internet connected, and that those machines should be accessible to RDP? I mean, it probably doesn’t have the dV to change to a collision course, but still, you don’t put control of your multi-billion dollar, once every other decade mission where some hacker can tell it to shut down the antenna, for example.

  • Time, tide, and orbital mechanics wait for no man.

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