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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.


2. Donate through Gabpay, using my email address zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

3. Patreon: Go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation.

4. A Paypal Donation:

4. A Paypal subscription:

5. Donate by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman and mailed to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
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Lockheed Martin wins NASA contract to build Mars rocket

Capitalism in space: NASA yesterday awarded Lockheed Martin a $194 million contract to build the Mars rocket that will lift Perseverance’s samples into orbit for return to Earth.

Set to become the first rocket fired off another planet, the MAV [Mars Ascent Vehicle] is a crucial part of a campaign to retrieve samples collected by NASA’s Perseverance rover and deliver them to Earth for advanced study. NASA’s Sample Retrieval Lander, another important part of the campaign, would carry the MAV to Mars’ surface, landing near or in Jezero Crater to gather the samples cached by Perseverance. The samples would be returned to the lander, which would serve as the launch platform for the MAV. With the sample container secured, the MAV would then launch.

Once it reaches Mars orbit, the container would be captured by an ESA (European Space Agency) Earth Return Orbiter spacecraft outfitted with NASA’s Capture, Containment, and Return System payload. The spacecraft would bring the samples to Earth safely and securely in the early- to mid-2030s.

According to this project’s webpage, the European Space Agency (ESA) is building that they call a “fetch rover” which will be deployed from the rover to get the samples and bring them back to the MAV.

There are a lot of uncertainties in this scenario. It has been decades since Lockheed Martin built rockets. ESA has not yet built an operational Mars rover. It is also unclear who will build NASA’s lander and capture/return payload. Thus, do not expect this mission to launch “as early as ’26,” as the press release says. I predict it will launch at least five, maybe ever ten years, later.

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.


  • Willi

    Astra launch now scheduled for noon EST on the 10th.

  • Col Beausabre

    Man, there is so much “this gets transferred to that” – totally ignoring KISS (not the music group). As a military man, I am reminded of the disaster which befell the overly complex Operation Eagle Claw in the Iranian desert four decades ago (Simplicity is one of the Nine Principles of War

    “The principles of war: Objective, Offensive, Mass, Economy of Force, Maneuver, Unity of
    Command, Security, Surprise, Simplicity. Military officers first learn of these principles as
    lieutenants and seek to refine their understanding throughout their careers. They hold a place of
    importance in our doctrine-based force and serve as a “guiding light” to those who would seek
    success on the battlefield. ”

    Generations of officers have been taught to remember them by the phrase “MOSS MOUSE”)

  • Concerned

    Starship, like it’s already doing to SLS, will make plans such as this look silly.
    It’s kind of like getting excited about the Pony Express as the tracks for the transcontinental railroad were being laid. People are still either largely ignorant or in denial about the revolution in space travel that Starship is about to unleash.

  • Gary

    So, how much of this contract is paid out before the project before Starship returns with the package?

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