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.

First attempts to fix Hubble fail

An attempt to switch the Hubble Space Telescope to a different backup computer module in order to bypass a broken unit failed last week, leaving the telescope in safe mode.

A payload computer on Hubble stopped working June 13, the agency said in a June 16 statement. Engineers speculated that the computer, used to manage operations of Hubble’s science instruments, malfunctioned because of a degrading memory module, putting the instruments into a safe mode.

The agency said at the time that it would switch of a backup memory module that day and, after about a day of testing, restart the instruments and resume science observations.

However, in a June 18 statement, NASA said those efforts to switch to a backup memory module failed because “the command to initiate the backup module failed to complete.” An attempt to restore the computer with both the original memory module and the backup unit also failed.

While the engineers at the Space Telescope Science Institute, that operates Hubble, have expressed confidence they can overcome these issues, the failures this week are truly troublesome. We may truly be facing the end of the telescope,


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  • Col Beausabre

    Bob, If it is the end, given its size, what are the plans to safely deorbit it?

  • Col Beausabre: NASA has a mission planned and designed, with some money already allocated. It is however not set for launch until late this decade, if my memory serves me. That isn’t a problem, however, because Hubble’s orbit is stable and is not expected to decay until the 30s.

  • I should add that it the failed module can be replaced in orbit, either robotically or by a spacewalking human, it would be smarter to consider that as the mission, not deorbiting the telescope, especially as they claim that everything else is working just fine.

    Options to do this kind of repair are only a little way over the horizon. We should use them.

  • Icepilot

    Save Hubble! (from brainless bureaucrats).
    I’ll be happy to take possession & responsibility for Hubble if NASA would forward the funds needed for the de-orbit job.
    Then I’d offer SpaceX 49% Hubble ownership for a 2024 repair/refurbishment mission to set up the 1st private orbiting telescope. Who wants to look at what (for a small, nominal fee).

  • Icepilot

    Robert – I just posted this article on my Facebook account. Don’t know if this is a software glitch, but the line under your title “First attempts to fix Hubble fail” isn’t, “An attempt to switch the Hubble Space Telescope…”. Instead, it comes from your ‘Comment Rules’ section, “However, name-calling and obscenities will not be tolerated. First time offenders …”.

  • Icepilot: I do not do Facebook. How exactly did you post it? Did you link to it? Or did you cut and past the whole thing (which by the way would be a violation of my copyright, as you wouldn’t have permission to repost my entire written work)?

    If you cut and pasted, I suspect you selected “all” which might grab stuff you don’t want.

    That’s a guess however. Please fill me in with more info.

  • Ray Van Dune

    I will assume safe-mode entry included shutting the front door this time!

  • Joe

    Ray Van Dune, it depends on how the computer started misbehaving. Unless there is a system working in parallel with the computer (such as a watchdog) the for may very well be open.

  • mpthompson

    Should this prove to be a showstopper for Hubble, it could provide an ideal opportunity to demonstrate a robotic repair mission to Hubble to replace the faulty module. It would probably be much cheaper than a human mission on Dragon or (gasp) Starliner. Not sure either is intended for spacewalks without significant redesign and testing. If the Dream Chaser and Shooting Star module has an airlock it could perhaps be a better option. Or Soyuz since it has a functional airlock and proven spacewalk capability, even if the experience was 40+ years ago.

  • Col Beausabre

    mothompson, I think the problem is Hubble wasn’t designed for repair missions. There are no built in attachment points and &diety knows how deep the critical components are buried and what’s involved in terms of disconnecting this and removing that to get to to them. And there are always unexpected show stoppers – you need a human mind on site to figure out a solution to them

  • Col Beasabre: You are incorrect. Hubble was quite specifically designed for repair missions. The shuttle flew about eight (the number could be different), along the way replacing all the instruments, the gyros, the solar panels, circuit panels, and most important, fixing the telescope when it was discovered it was out of focus. All those missions used the telescope’s grapple point, grabbed by the shuttle’s robot arm.

    Some repairs replaced planned modules. Several did not, and involved improvised work digging into the telescope to get the parts out.

    I do not know if these computer models are modules easy to remove and replace, but I suspect so, based on the telescope’s design.

    Regardless, a repair mission by robot or human spacecraft is certainly possible, and worth considering. Based on the accelerating innovation taking place in both, I am willing to bet it could be done.

  • wayne

    “The Universe in a Mirror: The Saga of the Hubble Space Telescope and the Visionaries Who Built It”
    Explorer’s Club 2008

  • mkent

    Robert is correct. Hubble was specifically designed to be repaired and upgraded by the Space Shuttle, which it was on five missions.

    The last servicing mission was the most ambitious. Space-suited astronauts actually climbed inside Hubble, unscrewed the lid on one of the computers — a computer not meant to be serviced — and replaced several circuit cards inside. It was probably the most challenging spacewalk in history.

    The trouble with doing such a servicing mission now is the lack of a Space Shuttle. The Shuttle provided a stable fixture to attach the telescope to while astronauts, often attached to the robot arm, did their work. The stability of the telescope-fixture-Shuttle-Canadarm-astronaut path can’t be duplicated now anywhere except the Space Station, and Hubble is in an orbit that can’t reach the station.

    We’ll see if engineers can fix Hubble remotely and, if not, what path NASA will pursue.

  • Icepilot

    Robert – I did a copy & paste of the link.
    Sincere apologies & I’ll cease & desist if you object.
    But in all truth, I thought I was spreading your excellent work & providing opportunities for folks to link to your site.
    Upon reflection, I doubt I’m alone & would question how the practice could be stopped.
    Best wishes.

  • Icepilot: All you need to do is copy one quote from one of my posts, and then provide link to the post itself.

    Which by the way is exactly what I do in all my posts. I always link to the article, and always limit what I quote from it to only give a taste of what’s there. It is wrong to copy it all, as that is essentially copyright theft. If I like something I read I quote it, but want my readers to read the original.

  • George C

    Imagine a competition to design specialized jigs and robots to fix Hubble. Especially something that can hang around for future upgrade work.

  • Doubting Thomas

    Regarding mkent’s last posted discussion and George C’s comment. If SpaceX can get Starship in orbit and develop operational on-orbit experience, and Elon can get even close to his goals for cost, many opportunities appear for Starship variants.

    Seems like Starship has the mass needed and could be retrofitted with a Candarm type rig for Hubble kind of servicing with humans aboard for the unexpected. The resultant set up would not be like the Starship that Musk envisions today. However, if production costs are low enough, that should allow a robust market in unique “aftermarket” retrofits to Starship. Especially if one envisions Starships that are boosted into orbit with the intention of staying there.

    Oh yeah and we need propellant farms in orbit to refuel things.

    C’mon SpaceX!!!!

  • Darwin Teague

    Isn’t there a backup computer they can switch over to?

  • Darwin Teague: Go to the main page. There are much more recent updates describing the situation with Hubble.

  • Icepilot

    “All you need to do is copy one quote from one of my posts, and then provide link to the post itself.”
    I didn’t even do the former, only the latter. I say again, I only posted the “link to the post itself”.

  • Icepilot: Then you did a nice thing, and I thank you deeply.

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