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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.

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NASA approves $1.2 billion asteroid-hunting space telescope

NASA has given the go-ahead to build NEO-Surveyor for $1.2 billion, more than twice the cost of its original proposal, to launch by 2028 and then look for potentially dangerous asteroids.

Notably, NEO Surveyor was earlier estimated to cost between $500 million and $600 million, or around half of the new commitment. The NASA statement said that the cost and schedule commitments outlined align the mission with “program management best practices that account for potential technical risks and budgetary uncertainty beyond the development project’s control.” Earlier this year, the project’s launch was delayed two years, from 2026, due to agency budget concerns.

The mission is designed to discover 90% of potentially Earth-threatening asteroids and comets 460 feet (140 meters) or larger that come within 30 million miles (48 million kilometers) of Earth’s orbit. The spacecraft will carry out the survey while from Earth-sun Lagrange Point 1, a gravitationally stable spot in space about 930,000 miles (1.5 million kilometers) inside the Earth’s orbit around the sun.

A prediction: It will cost more, and not launch on time. NASA’s decision to double the budget and delay the launch two years suggests it did not trust the JPL cost and time estimates. Based on most NASA-centered projects, however, it is likely the new numbers will still be insufficient.

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.


  • Jason Lewis

    It’s mirroring the Webb telescope program. Lowball a $500 million to win support, then upscale to over a billion. Delays and cost overruns will eventually reward you with 20x the original proposal to $10 billion.

  • Stephen Richter

    It is not clear to me that comparisons to Webb tell us that this project will be badly managed and poorly executed. Webb is a triumph. Same with the Mars rovers. Maybe the initial low estimates on cost and time for Webb were a masterful way for project managers to work the system and get the Congress and country to fund a project that they otherwise would not.

  • Jhon B

    Bob, you should start a contest to see who can guess to the closest billion on how much over budget it will go.

  • John hare

    You say masterful, I say criminal. If someone tries that on a contract with, I will hand him his butt.

  • Tom Billings

    Stephen Richter said:

    “Maybe the initial low estimates on cost and time for Webb were a masterful way for project managers to work the system and get the Congress and country to fund a project that they otherwise would not.”

    You reverse the causation here. Like aerospace contractors, the project managers, since I first lobbied for OAO-1 in 1964, across the river in Portland, were beholden to the wishes of members of Congress. The wishes of members of Congress were to get re-elected, by voters happy in high-paying jobs, for which they were dependent on the Congress member from their district. Since OAO-1 we have seen budgets stretch and stretch again, to accommodate the political needs of congress members to have voters dependent on their incumbent status, especially in the Senate.

    That is the reason that programs funded by Congress are managed with such disregard for tight budgeting, … because *Congress*wants*it*that*way*. It is Congress that has shaped space science, and space science management, just as much as they have the human spaceflight programs.

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