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.

NASA awards three contracts to develop nuclear propulsion concepts

Capitalism in space: NASA yesterday awarded three different contracts to three different corporation partnerships to develop new nuclear propulsion concepts for use in space.

The contracts, to be awarded through the DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL), are each valued at approximately $5 million. They fund the development of various design strategies for the specified performance requirements that could aid in deep space exploration.

Nuclear propulsion provides greater propellant efficiency as compared with chemical rockets. It’s a potential technology for crew and cargo missions to Mars and science missions to the outer solar system, enabling faster and more robust missions in many cases.

The contracts went to these partnerships:

  • Lockheed Martin and BWX Technologies
  • Aerojet Rocketdyne, General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems, and X-energy
  • Blue Origin, Ultra Safe Nuclear Technologies, Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation, General Electric Hitachi Nuclear Energy, General Electric Research, Framatome, and Materion

Once the concepts are put forth at the end of the 12-month contracts, the DOE’s laboratory will review them and make recommendations to NASA for further work.

This contract, along with other NASA contracts to develop nuclear power for use on planetary surfaces, strongly suggests that the fear of using nuclear power in space is receding. If so, the capabilities in space will increase significantly in the coming years.


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  • Mark

    I would like to see SpaceX buy both BWX Technologies and General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems, and then merge them to supercharge the engineering efforts for nuclear space propulsion. This would also give Musk the nuclear engineering know how to power Mars Settlements and to power Starship In-Situ Propellant Production.

  • David K

    It’s about freaking time. Hopefully something will come from this

    However, I am concerned by some of the names here that we won’t see anything for another 20-30 years. Plus $5 million is not very much at all.

  • V-Man

    $5M will buy a couple of Powerpoint decks and maybe a few computer animations. And both will likely be pitches for additional funds “to further explore the technology.”

  • What sort are these? Rover/ Nerva, I suspect. But De Hoffman’s General Atomic was behind the Orion nuclear pulse concept.
    The last time they funded a Nerva type – Timberwind – they weren’t serious about anything but training engineers and physicists; they had a laminar flow heat exchanger. If such a device is hot enough that the exhaust is plasma, they may do some interesting tricks with magnetic fields.
    I wonder if they COULD get away with an Orion type. That would put a great many people into a gibbering fit. If they can keep their ablatives working, they could have an amazing Isp.
    Or is their a new system?

  • Jay

    Yes it is a Nuclear Thermal Rocket (NTR). I am sure they will go and look at the solid, liquid, and gas versions, and I bet the results will show all three groups going with a solid NTR that is just like Rover/NERVA since the R&D is already done with the KIWI tests.

    I agree with you guys, $5M is nothing.

  • Jay

    Sorry David, I forgot to answer your question about an Orion type propulsion. No, it would never be allowed. First we have three treaties that ban it and second you would have every anti-nuke kook from here to Beijing protesting. Mention that idea to AOC and she will go prompt critical with a yield of 10kt. Pelosi would yield 20kt.

  • Call Me Ishmael

    “Mention that idea to AOC and she will go prompt critical with a yield of 10kt. Pelosi would yield 20kt.”

    So what would be the down side?

  • Jeff Wright

    Bezos just needs to write General Atomics a big check.

  • wayne

    Thanks for bringing that up. (nerva/kiwi, et al)

    an oldy but a goody–
    Nuclear Propulsion in Space
    NASA (1968)
    (This is also available at archive(dot)org, in case anyone wants to avoid YT.)

    Just as a general comment—
    Sometimes…. I get this nagging feeling with a few select ‘old ideas’, that what winds up happening is the taxpayers have to pony up for “R&D” that has already been done. (or worse, ‘they’ didn’t even bother archiving the data from the 1st time around.)
    And yeah, $5 million doesn’t cover much these days as it relates to govt spending (sad but true)— is this an example of constructing an eventual buy-in scenario?

  • wayne

    Here we go…

    “Nuclear Propulsion in Space”

    “Produced by the Atomic Energy Agency and NASA, this film details Project NERVA — the Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application. This was a joint program of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and NASA managed by the Space Nuclear Propulsion Office (SNPO) at the Nuclear Rocket Development Station in Jackass Flats, Nevada U.S.A. Between 1959 and 1972, the Space Nuclear Propulsion Office oversaw 23 reactor tests……”

  • Jay

    Ishmael has a point. David, you now have your Orion program with an abundant fuel source. With the number of liberals in congress, you could probably achieve half the speed of light to Proxima Centauri!

  • Jay

    I have the same videos in my NERVA collection and I see the NASA channel actually plays that first film. That first film is a goody!

  • A wonderful bit of infighting: Dr. Bussard claimed he was the one who cancelled Orion. They never did get a test to see if the ablative oil would hold up to multiple blasts. Robert Bussard was a yachtsman and believed that turbulence on the pusher plate would lead to waves of exposed metal and cause catastrophic failure.

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