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.

Inspiration4 safely splashes down

The Dragon capsule Resilience safely splashed down today as planned in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida with its 4 Inspiration4 passengers.

This was the second flight for Resilience.

The live stream is embedded below. As I write this the recovery of the capsule is ongoing.


Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

Your support is even more essential to me because I keep this site free from advertisements and do not participate in corrupt social media companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook. I depend wholly on the direct support of my readers.

You can provide that support to Behind The Black with a contribution via Patreon or PayPal. To use Patreon, go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation. For PayPal click one of the following buttons:


Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If Patreon or Paypal don't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to

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


  • David K

    Why would you spend tens of millions for minutes in “space” on blue origin when you can spend days in space for the same price?

  • David K: The price is not the same. The suborbital flights seem right now to be rounding out at a little below half a million, while the orbital flights are presently about $50 million per ticket.

  • wayne

    How functional are these space-suits?

  • Wayne: These are NOT spacesuits. They are FLIGHT suits, specifically designed as an extra layer of protection within the capsule. Think of the suits jet pilots wear.

    The suits link up with Dragon’s systems to provide a variety of needs, while also acting as a redundancy if the capsule itself should have a leak or failure.

  • wayne

    Mr. Z.–
    thank you.

  • Joe

    I am glad they are down safe and sound. It looks like the mission was a success. The crew did amazing things, namely showing that you don’t need years of training to go to space (orbit in fact). This MUST become the norm. If we are to embrace space travel then we must embrace everyday citizens taking trips to space. Only when that happens can we truly expand beyond Earth.

  • Richard M

    Eric Berger tweets: “Thanks @NASA! Saved SpaceX in 2008, created the commercial crew program in 2010, and fully supported the development of Crew Dragon. Today’s mission does not happen without the government’s vision of being one of many customers of spaceflight.”

    Every word of this is true. Inspiration4 has executed on the rationale NASA had for Commercial Crew, just as Falcon 9’s dominance of the commercial global launch market did: To help facilitate the emergence of commercial U.S. space capabilities for which NASA is just one customer among many, and thereby to benefit from (much) lower costs and greater advances in capability than NASA itself could ever achieve, allowing it to get much more exploration bang for its bucks.

    So in addition to all the accolades for Elon, Gwynne, Hans, and all the SpaceX team over the past decade, credit is also due to those few leaders at NASA who pushed and stayed the course on this radical departure in how NASA procures spaceflight: chiefly, Lori Garver, Jim Bridenstine, Kathy Lueders, and even, in his own way, Bill Gerstenmeier (now happily employed at SpaceX himself). Let us hope this paves the way for a complete NASA shift to such programs going forward, with SLS and Orion soon to be retired as the final relics of a past age of NASA operated systems.

  • David Eastman

    Back when most of the big federal agencies were first created, the purpose was to help the public get something done. The Department of Agriculture shared info and resources with farmers to get crops planted when and where they would provide the best yields. NACA would gather information from various experimental programs and share that with the aircraft manufacturers, and would in fact come around with suggestions, “we know you’re thinking of doing X, but don’t know how to do it yet. Other manufacturer Z has been working with us on that problem for a research program, here is the data.”

    Somewhere along the way, all these agencies have lost their way, and they are no longer partners with the public, but view us, and particularly any “corporation” that proposes to actually “gasp!” make money, as the enemy to constrained, confronted, and restricted, on behalf of… “the people.” Actual concrete people who want to do things are opposed on behalf of some amorphous concept of the people as a whole.

    It’s good to see NASA taking small steps back towards what NACA once was, but don’t overstate it, it’s been very small steps, encouraged mostly by people who aren’t there anymore.

  • Jeff Wright

    Don’t be so quick to count NASA out.

    Now with ISS there isn’t much time to dream…because they are doing actual science.

    But you do need people in space in an unhurried capacity to actually try things off the cuff. Non-goal directed research is where most our advances come from.

    Both rigor (old space) and vigor (new space) are needed.

  • David Eastman

    “because they are doing actual science”

    I hear that all the time. But so many of the most basic questions we started asking before we sent the first man to space remain not only unanswered, but without any useful experiments having been run. Has there been any long duration study of the whole life cycle of something even so large as a mouse? Has there been any real progress on making a balanced meal from ingredients grown in space? How about any advanced medicine beyond “hope we can get them home in time?” How about trials of various radiation shielding techniques? Tethers, rotating platforms? The list of things that you would think should be among the very top priorities if we’re serious about living in space that have barely been scratched at. Once these proposals don’t have to make it through a dozen layers of bureaucracy I bet it makes all the science done over the whole lifetime of the ISS look pathetic very quickly.

  • Patrick Underwood

    Richard M, I hate to say it, but even Mike Griffin had a hand in commercial resupply, paving the way for commercial crew. As I understand, anyway. So that’s a plus to rank against his otherwise disastrous, gigantic list of minuses as NASA Administrator.

  • pzatchok

    “because they are doing actual science”

    People say that but always forget astronauts spend over half their available time taking care of the station. Doing station housekeeping duties included.

    When we get maintenance men and janitors in space we will have finally moved in. Then again at that point we could just send young cheap students up to do those experiments instead of those expensive over trained and educated astronauts.

  • Gary

    Does SLS count as “non goal directed research?”

  • Edward

    Jeff Wright wrote: “because they are doing actual science.

    This is true, but it was true of the Space Shuttle. The main difference is that the rate of science per day in space is about the same, but the Shuttle spent far fewer days per year in space. I cannot wait for commercial space stations and commercial experiments and exploration to become the major factor. The rate of the science will increase greatly.

    Inspiration4 did a few experiments, and this is an excellent start, showing the world that We the People can do experimentation and exploration, too, and that we are willing to pay for it ourselves rather than depend upon tax dollars.

    David Eastman wrote: “so many of the most basic questions we started asking before we sent the first man to space remain not only unanswered, but without any useful experiments having been run.

    This is also true. Government space has had a different goal in mind. Even the goal of going to Mars (the assumed purpose of the ISS) has been neglected. As noted in the article reporting on astronaut Mark Vande Hei’s mission recently being extended to 345 days,
    Vande Hei explains that he sees the extended stay as a crucial way for scientists to begin to understand how the human body withstands the long spaceflights that will be necessary to visit deep-space destinations like Mars.

    Typically, space station visits last about six and a half months; a round trip to Mars would likely take more like two years, according to NASA.

    “Thank you, Mark, for your dedication to @NASA and research that will prepare humanity for Artemis missions to the moon and later to Mars!” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson wrote in a tweet congratulating the astronaut on his mission extension.

    ISS has been operational for a decade, but NASA has been reluctant to perform these long-duration missions. This informs us that NASA has not been eager to send men and materiel to Mars. Only now, a few years before ISS is scheduled to be decommissioned, are we “begin[ning] to understand how the human body withstands the long spaceflights that will be necessary to visit deep-space destinations like Mars.

    What were — and are — government’s goals? We are uncertain, and government may not know them, either. The announced goals can, do, and have changed over time. Meanwhile, companies like Blue Origin are eager to get back to the Moon, and companies like SpaceX are eager to go forth to Mars. There once was a debate over which of these two places we should go to first, but now that government budgets are getting out of the way and corporate budgets are taking over, we are coming to the realization that both can be done simultaneously.

    Will we get answers to those questions that David Eastman reminded us are still pending? Possibly, but it depends upon whether We the People, who are now the ones doing the exploration, think the answers are still important. I think that they are, as they are likely necessary for many of the goals that We the People have for space.

  • Richard M

    Hi Patrick,

    COTS is definitely a bright spot on Mike Griffin’s otherwise grim tenure at NASA. Still boggles my mind that he approved it, but credit where credit is due.

  • sippin_bourbon

    Question: They are obviously not space suits.

    But are they pressure suits?
    You said they would provide protection from exposure.

    I found one article (that calls them space suits, BTW) that said you “jump in a vacuum”.
    However, what I did not find was anything from SX on the specs for the suits.

Readers: the rules for commenting!


No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.


However, name-calling and obscenities will not be tolerated. First time offenders who are new to the site will be warned. Second time offenders or first time offenders who have been here awhile will be suspended for a week. After that, I will ban you. Period.


Note also that first time commenters as well as any comment with more than one link will be placed in moderation for my approval. Be patient, I will get to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *