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.

Hubble update: Still no solution

An update today from the engineers trouble-shooting the problem on the Hubble Space Telescope that put it into safe mode on June 13 continue to show the problem is complex, and has not yet been traced to its source.

Additional tests performed on June 23 and 24 included turning on the backup computer for the first time in space. The tests showed that numerous combinations of [a number of] hardware pieces from both the primary and backup payload computer all experienced the same error – commands to write into or read from memory were not successful.

Since it is highly unlikely that all individual hardware elements have a problem, the team is now looking at other hardware as the possible culprit, including the Command Unit/Science Data Formatter (CU/SDF), another module on the SI C&DH [the module that holds the telescope’s computers]. The CU formats and sends commands and data to specific destinations, including the science instruments. The SDF formats the science data from the science instruments for transmission to the ground. The team is also looking at the power regulator to see if possibly the voltages being supplied to hardware are not what they should be. A power regulator ensures a steady constant voltage supply. If the voltage is out of limits, it could cause the problems observed.

They remain hopeful they can find the problem and fix it, though the longer it takes the more worrisome it becomes.


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  • brightdark

    Assuming it actually works, I think the general public might be a little surprised at the images that come from Webb vs Hubble since Webb is infrared. Is there a major visible light space telescope on the possible horizon?

  • brightdark: I’ve written this multiple times in previous updates: The Chinese have an optical telescope possibly superior to Hubble planned for launch soon after their space station is completed.

  • Chris Cresta

    NASA’s Roman Space Telescope, could that be given the ability to see visible light?

  • Seems to me there night be a market for optical space-based telescopes. They don’t have to be state-of-the-art; just good enough to get the observations required. And that should be easier without fighting the atmosphere.

  • pzatchok

    Could Hubble be captured and stabilized so someone could spend a week or more repairing it?

    I know its been done before but we no longer have the shuttle.

    This time we could change everything including the cameras. computers and gyroscopes.

  • wayne

    “The Universe in a Mirror: The Saga of the Hubble Space Telescope and the Visionaries Who Built It”
    Robert Zimmerman
    Channel 13 Forum at the Explorer’s Club; June 30, 2008

  • wayne


    “The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope”
    Jennifer Wiseman & Julie McEnery, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
    The Space Telescope Public Lecture Series, October 2020

    “Roman will survey the sky in infrared light, which is invisible to human eyes. It will have the same resolution in near-infrared wavelengths as NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, but will capture a field of view about 100 times larger.”

  • Gary in Transit

    Does Hubble still have an advantage in the visible spectrum over newer ground based telescopes?

  • Gary in Transit: Yes. Even the biggest ground-based telescope under construction, using adaptive optics, will not be able to see what Hubble can. Adaptive optics can only sharpen a very small field of view. For larger objects, such as nearer galaxies or nebulae or planetary nebulae, the view is limited or poor.

    Moreover, the coming of large satellite constellations will further blind these ground-based telescopes.

    Also, Hubble has a 2.4 meter mirror, compared to the Thirty-Meter Telescope (typical of the new large ground-based telescopes under construction). And yet, Hubble’s view is better or comparable. Imagine if astronomers stopped wasting their effort on ground-based telescopes and went to space instead, building telescopes only twice as large as Hubble. The discoveries would be immeasurable, especially if they launched several.

  • Max

    Z man said;
    “Imagine if astronomers stopped wasting their effort on ground-based telescopes and went to space instead, building telescopes only twice as large as Hubble. The discoveries would be immeasurable, especially if they launched several.”

    I could not agree more, especially now that musk has proven that orbital space can be done efficiently and cheaply.

    The mirrors of the delayed Hawaiian observatory could be assembled in orbit, with the capabilities and resolution probably 100 times that of Hubble. (I know it’s not that easy, mirrors built for the gravity of earth to not distort, would be very long lasting in orbit but very heavy)

    It wasn’t long ago that only one satellite at a time could be launched into orbit. Now dozens in one launch… And a couple of payloads for customers at the same time to pay for it.

    Can you imagine a resupply to ISS with two sections of mirror under the fairings? The shape is right, and can be attached to the outer hull of ISS until all the parts are there for assembly. It might even be possible for a prototype of the Bigelow Hotel to provide room to assemble inside of an atmosphere. (no need for bulky space suits and to keep the bolts, nuts and wrenches from drifting away)

    Although orbiting near ISS is handy for maintenance and construction, the ideal spot would be the same as the James Webb infrared telescope at Lagrange point 2 in earths shadow. (better but less accessible than the far side of the Moon)
    If mounted on the same platform, they can both complement each other looking at the same section of sky for a more detailed picture.
    If not, observation cameras mounted to each could watch each other in regular visual inspections, but could be serviced at the same time.
    Ping radar from this location giving accurate detailed mapping of the inner system for space debris and meteors. (In concert from the far side of the moon where the radio dishes are located for triangulation)

    There a telescope will have full range of celestial motion without worrying about the light, radiation, or distorting heat from the sun… Only the bright part of the moon is worrisome but won’t cause irrevocable damage.

    Does anyone know if starship has a method to lower equipment and personnel from the hatch on a vertical landing on the moon? I picture the airlock hatch door swinging out from vertical to a horizontal position and lowering itself down the outside of the craft like an elevator.
    Telescoping arm like on the modern powerline bucket truck is probably more practical, such a robotic arm could be used for multiple purposes like grabbing the Hubble to hold it for the repair mission.

    I have reminisced about the lost opportunity of the center fuel tanks from the space shuttle program that could’ve been used for habitation purposes, since they were already in orbit. (about the same space as a 747 fuselage)
    Likewise, hatches or airlock doors could be built into the non-toxic insulated hydrogen (or methane) and oxygen tanks of the current boosters.
    Equipment, long girders can be attached to the inside of the tank with the fuel for the trip up. Once the fuel is spent (or pumped into another tank for storage, orbital adjustment) the booster is then used as a construction or living space. (Picture dozens of taylor made boosters, connected together that rotates for artificial gravity for long-term thick walled safe habitat)
    A two for one deal without wasting the heaviest components that you placed in orbit. Not to mention expensive rocket motors available in space to replace faulty ones like a used parts store.

    On a personal note, I set my alarm and went out at 4:45 AM to watch the five minute transit of the ISS…
    I wish I would’ve taken my camera because just as it was passing from the west overhead, a second equally bright object coming from the north, probably the Chinese space station, appeared to be on a collision course, passing each other within a lunar circumference (from my vantage point in SLC.)
    What opportunity missed with both stations in the same photograph…

  • Doubting Thomas

    Said this before but……

    Yes there are better things on the horizon but it seems a shame to throw away an asset in orbit for want of some old aging microprocessor. Like @pzatchok said: “This time we could change everything including the cameras. computers and gyroscopes.”

    Rooting for Starship and then an after market mod to carry a Candarm type manipulator and a crew of on orbit repair persons. We may as well utilize the designed in serviceability of Hubble.

    Sure that we could continue to learn from Hubble, even if not cutting edge capability, for another 15 years if it were serviceable

  • Doubting Thomas: “Another 15 years” is a very large understatement. Consider the use made of the original giant ground-based telescopes (Hale, Lick, etc), with some approaching a century in age.

    Hubble if properly maintained can give us many more decades of data. We just need to skills and technology to reach it, all just beyond the horizon.

  • Doubting Thomas

    Robert – I tend to agree, thinking about Hale and others when I wrote, tempted to put a bigger number (shoulda put a +) but was trying to be appropriately conservative considering the environment it lives in and that it has been in orbit now for about 30 years. Considering in today’s dollars it would cost us about double original price to put the same capability in space; repair and refurbishment is a great economical scientific option. Perhaps even nudge to a space station facility or build a small station near it to help? Chinese are talking about nearby space telescope eventually near their manned station, I think.

    I believe Willy Ley suggested in his 1950’s kids book on space stations that an astronomical observatory be parked near the manned space station for ease of data retrieval, maintenance and upgrade. Von Braun & Bonestell may have talked and drawn about the same thing. Tech is vastly different today than 1955 obviously, but the ability to quickly correct problems and get these systems back on line is still invaluable. Think that is what is so exciting about SpaceX Starship is that it has the power to bring a variant of my childhood to real life.

    As you say, capability to maintain (and perhaps upgrade) for the long haul is just at the edge of the horizon.

  • John

    A while back, it came out that the national reconnaissance office had two surplus Hubble sized optical scopes but with a shorter focal lengths. They were going to give them to NASA. Apologies for the nbc source, but anyone know what became of the scopes?

    It’s another sign of the dysfunctional backward times if Hubble dies for lack of maintenance with no visible wavelength replacement.

    Maybe they can sell it for $1 to Space X and they can sell observing time to recoup the service mission costs. It’s designed to be serviced, I bet a dragon or two could be modified to do whatever the shuttle would have done.

  • Jeff Wright

    To Max;

    SLS could be adapted the way the shuttle External Tanks were to be used. Hydrogen depots, habitation… no need to put landing legs or heat shields on it like Starship. Just use Super Heavy or a later version of that to put a single RS-68 equipped SLS as a huge upper stage, and that core can be a wet workshop well away from LEO.

    Something else of note:
    I was at where I read Anthony A. David’ article about Phil Nuytten of Nuytco;

    “The Prolific Canadian Inventor Behind ‘The Iron Suit’”

    Now, the article goes on to talk about how submarine steel secrets have only now been released for public use. Musk needs to get on this for Starship or Sea Dragon!

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