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My February birthday fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black it now over. I sincerely and with deep gratitude thank all those who donated. Without your support I could not keep doing this, not so much because of the need for income to pay the bills, but because it tells me that there are people out there who want me to do this work. For those who did not contribute during the campaign, please consider adding your vote of support to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, in any one of the following ways:


1. Zelle: This is the only internet method that charges no fees. All you have to do is use the Zelle link at your internet bank and give my name and email address (zimmerman at nasw dot org). What you donate is what I get.


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Hubble still in safe mode

NASA released a new but relatively terse update on November 1st describing the status of the Hubble Space Telescope, which has been in safe mode since October 25th.

Hubble’s science instruments issued error codes at 1:46 a.m. EDT Oct. 23, indicating the loss of a specific synchronization message. This message provides timing information the instruments use to correctly respond to data requests and commands. The mission team reset the instruments, resuming science operations the following morning.

At 2:38 a.m. EDT, Oct. 25, the science instruments again issued error codes indicating multiple losses of synchronization messages. As a result, the science instruments autonomously entered safe mode states as programmed.

Mission team members are evaluating spacecraft data and system diagrams to better understand the synchronization issue and how to address it. They also are developing and testing procedures to collect additional data from the spacecraft. These activities are expected to take at least one week.

In other words, the engineers presently do not understand the problem, and are working at pinpointing its cause.

This is not a “glitch”. If used properly that word really refers to something that is akin to a short burp in operations. Hubble has been shut down now for ten days, and will remain so for at least one more week. This is a serious problem that remains unsolved.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


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.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • concerned

    Bob– did you mean “If used properly,……” ?

  • concerned: Yes. My brain sometimes does not communicate with my fingers. Fixed. Thank you.

  • I’ve said that Hubble is well past its “Sell By” date. That machine is essentially, done. We’ve lost Arecibo, and are losing Hubble. Dark Ages are easier to implement, when you can’t see.

  • Lemuel Vargas

    We have the James Webb Telescope w/c is slated for launch on Dec. 18, 2021 at 7:20 EST. It has arrived now in Kourou French Guiana….

    Hopefully, the complicated unfurling of it will have no glitch…

  • Lemuel Vargas: Just in case you don’t know, Webb is NOT a replacement for Hubble. It is an infrared telescope, not optical, and was designed for deep space cosmology. It will do great work, but when Hubble goes, the U.S. will no longer have an orbital optical telescope.

    The Chinese plan to launch one comparable (or even better than Hubble) in just a few years, and keep it relatively close to their space station so they can maintain it.

  • Ray Van Dune

    Imagine a telescope of roughly the SOFIA specifications, but instead of riding in a 747 hull, riding in the cargo bay of a Starship. The development investment could be focused less on minimum mass and high redundancy, and more on timely deployment (not -10 years but -2 years), and repairability / upgradability.

    Instead of going to the Lagrange 4 or 5 points to reduce Earth’s interference, a lunar “halo” orbit might be a workable improvement to Hubble’s LEO orbit. The opportunity might exist to have human visits as required, or even periodic returns of the observatory to LEO for work.

    SOFIA stands for Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, but the conceptual design could be adapted for visual use too.

  • pzatchok

    It might be time for someone to reach out and fix it.
    Sort of like an abandoned ship at sea,

    Attach a propulsion system to it and start bringing it into a lower orbit of maintenance. A year later a ship could get close enough to fix it.

    If you fix it you own it.

    I bet a few private companies would go for this.
    Charge the world half a billion a year for its use.

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