Leaving Earth cover

In 2019 I obtained from my former publisher the last 30 copies of the now out-of-print hardback of Leaving Earth. I sold about half of these, and with only a handful left in stock I have raised the price. To get your own autographed copy of this rare collector's item please send a $75 check (includes $5 shipping) payable to Robert Zimmerman to

Behind The Black, c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

I will likely raise the price again when only ten books are left, so buy them now at this price while you still can!

Also available as an inexpensive ebook!

Leaving Earth: Space Stations, Rival Superpowers, and the Quest for Interplanetary Travel, can be purchased as an ebook everywhere for only $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit.


Winner of the 2003 Eugene M. Emme Award of the American Astronautical Society.

"Leaving Earth is one of the best and certainly the most comprehensive summary of our drive into space that I have ever read. It will be invaluable to future scholars because it will tell them how the next chapter of human history opened." -- Arthur C. Clarke

Houston trying to steal land from two churches

Fascists: Having failed to intimidate religious leaders when the city of Houston tried to subpoena their sermons, the city is now trying to use eminent domain procedures to shut down two churches.

The fifth ward is located just outside of downtown. Property values in the area have skyrocketed and continue to climb. The City of Houston offered to purchase the churches. When the churches refused, the city came back with threats of using eminent domain to acquire the property as part of an urban development plan.

More here. Texas state law, written and passed after the Supreme Court decision in Kelo v New London, expressly forbids this kind of eminent domain taking. Moreover, the taking appears to specifically violate the first amendment rights of these two churches.

Quick! Guess what to which political party the Houston mayor belongs!

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit.


  • tps

    Fascists is right, Bob.

    Kelo was lockstep anti-First Amendment and liberty, and what is happening now is disgusting. Who is rallying for the churches to shine the antiseptic light of day on this calumny? I bet the support would be overwhelming.

    When assaulted, punch back twice as hard.

  • Nick P

    “Quick! Guess what to which political party the Houston mayor belongs!”

    That’s a tough one Bob. How many chances do I get?

  • Edward

    “Kelo was lockstep anti-First Amendment and liberty”

    I think you meant to say “anti-Fifth Amendment and liberty”. Kilo was a Fifth Amendment issue, and the SCOTUS allowed governments to confiscate property for fun and profit. In the case of Kilo, it was for profit. In the case of this post, it is confiscation for fun — specifically revenge for disagreeing with the King — er — mayor.

    you are right that this case is also a First Amendment case, as the mayor is intentionally trying to prohibit the free exercise of religion for these churches.

  • Garry

    To be fair, the SCOTUS ruled that Kelo was lawful under Connecticut’s Constitution, and the ruling all but urged Connecticut to make a new law to change that. Unfortunately, that never happened.

    The project for which land was seized under Kelo was never built.

  • Joe From Houston

    So, I watch the local Houston news and they tell stories of the Mayor battling with preachers from the 5th ward churches. I just learn like most everyone else as the story unfolds. You want to take sides one day and then change sides the next. Bob’s perspective is far ahead of the local news and interesting to read.

    Another interesting and controversial story in Houston near the Johnson Space Center is the Exploration Green Conservancy movement that is approved by the Major of Houston to pay $50M for. See http://www.explorationgreen.org

    They are planning to turn about 200 acres of an old golf course into a water runoff reservoir that additionally receives up to 15 million gallons of treated sewage water per day. The old golf course is embedded in a residential neighborhood. If you want to learn about what Exploration Green officials are not talking about, go to http://www.savetheogc.org.

  • Chops

    The project never got off the ground because Pfizer “unexpectedly” abandoned the New London, CT research site (and with it 1,000 jobs). Follow the money !

  • Cotour


    “Good Intentions”, “solving problems” and tyranny, listen to a former Marxist about where such things come from and lead to.


  • Fascists: A shame the ruling and law didn’t come a lot earlier. Might have prevented the seizure of land to build a new stadium for the Texas Rangers, then co-owned by one George W. Bush.

    Quick! Guess what to which political party the former president belongs!


  • Hey, Doug, if you read my webpage you will notice that I don’t have much respect for the Republicans either, especially the establishment Republican leadership led by the Bush family. Both Bush presidencies were a disaster, failing badly to rein in government while producing terrible foreign policy failures.

    Nonetheless, the Democrats these days are the far more corrupt party, a party which is also far more willing to use the power of government to squelch freedom. Pointing at Republican corruption doesn’t change this.

  • Cotour

    The creation of political false equivalencies is a distraction at the minimum and at the maximum specifically designed to create a circular dead end, non sequitur type argument so no issue can be understood or resolved. False equivalency arguments are a natural phenomenon of discussion but ultimately are intellectually dishonest.

    Both party’s suck, they are both leading this country down the One World Government, gutted Constitution road, each for their own perverted reasons, lets every body get that through their heads!

    The people grow tired of these distractions and treachery, BY BOTH PARTY”S!

  • Edward


    Ruling that it is lawful under Connecticut’s constitution also means that they ruled that it is lawful under the U.S. Constitution. There are any number of problems with this ruling. For one, the property was not being confiscated for public use but for private use. Obviously, Kilo is an example of crony government, as in the use to which the new owner would put it was supposed to generate more tax revenue than was collected as private housing.

    The entire purpose of the last phrase in the Fifth Amendment was to prevent governments from confiscating property at their whim. It was intended to make sure that property rights were strong, and that we do not have to fear that we will lose the enjoyment of our property unless it was truly needed for public purposes AND that we would be justly compensated, not cheated out of our property, as happened in the case of Kilo. Outside of the damage to the original owners, and to our rights, the shame (or is it karma?) of Kilo is that the local government has lost virtually all of the tax revenue of the unjustly confiscated property without gaining the revenue they confiscated it for.

    The shame of Houston is that the mayor is trying to use eminent domain as a personal punishment rather than as a public service. I await news that the citizens of Houston organized a well deserved recall election.

  • Edward

    Both Parties? There are two parties and not just two branches of the same party? Huh. I guess I misread American politics.

    [Sarcasm alert]

  • Cotour

    It remains to be seen if their will be just two party’s of consequence or three in the next presidential election. Don’t be surprised if the next president is of neither the Democrat or Republican party.

    Watch this and understand that there is such a universal feeling of dread and disgust in America today that things like this video, although hilarious, identify what I will call a growing political phenomenon that will be a part of the next election.


    (no sarcasm alert)

  • Garry

    Oh, I agree that the ruling was disturbing. My take on it was that SCOTUS felt that, given the precedents, it had no choice but to find Kelo lawful under Connecticut’s law and Constitution, and made sure to emphasize that the state could avoid future instances by amending the Constitution or just passing a law.

    I’m happy to see that Texas has done so, but Connecticut still hasn’t.

    A year after Kelo I ran into my state rep in a crowded post office and publicly called him and the other reps for not doing so, despite SCOTUS’s urging. He bleated some excuses about the reps from the big cities didn’t want to fix it because they wanted wide latitude in using eminent domain. I responded that this was a chance to show leadership, by bringing the public into the debate, so that the public could put pressure on those state reps who wanted to obstruct.

    He gave no response, and seemed to be in shock about my basic description of how representative government is supposed to work.

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