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On February 5, 2023 I will celebrate my 70th birthday. Yay! As I do every year during this birthday month, I run a campaign to raise money to support my work here at Behind The Black. I do not run ads. My only support comes from my readers, which leaves me utterly free to speak my mind openly about space, culture, and politics. Please consider supporting me in this work by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, in any one of the following ways:


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NASA corrupt safety panel once again blathers on

The corrupt safety panel at NASA that spent years slowing down SpaceX’s manned Dragon capsule development with sometimes absurd demands, including delays caused simply because of paperwork, is now demanding that NASA should slow its approval of Boeing’s Starliner capsule, even if its unmanned demo mission next week succeeds completely.

This quote from the article best illustrates this safety panel’s do-nothing bureaucratic view of the world:

A further concern is that Starliner uses the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket to get to orbit, but Atlas Vs are being phased out. ULA is building a new rocket, Vulcan, that could see its first launch late this year, but must go through a “human-rating” certification process that [panel member David] West said “could take years” for Starliner. [emphasis mine]

Every demand of this panel for years has demanded years of delays, with many having nothing to do with technical safety — the panel’s original purpose — but with management questions and the panel’s own overblown opinion of itself. Worse, some of its demands never made sense, such as its objection to SpaceX’s launch procedures where it fueled the rocket after the astronauts got on board. This quote from an earlier post about the panel’s recent inappropriate attempt to insert itself into NASA’s policy decisions sums things up well, and provides links to previous failures of the panel:

This panel continues to demonstrate its corrupt and power-hungry attitude about how the U.S. should explore space. For years it did whatever it could to stymie NASA’s efforts to transfer ownership to the private sector, putting up false barriers to the launch of SpaceX’s manned Dragon capsule that made no sense and were really designed to keep all control within the government bureaucracy.

It is now targeting Boeing, though amazingly it is only doing it after many of Starliner’s technical problems have been uncovered. The safety panel was a complete failure in spotting the company’s problems early on, several years ago, when it might have saved everyone a lot of time and money. Instead, it now acts like an annoying back seat driver, only kibitzing about things that went wrong long after everyone else has done the work.

I have been saying for years that it is time to shut this panel down. It is now long past time to do so. The time and money saved might actually improve safety far more than the panel ever has.

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.


  • Col Beausabre

    “Starliner uses Atlas V? I’m shocked! Shocked!!”

    As if this is a new discovery? How many years has this been the plan?

    Also, this outfit displays a complete lack of professionalism by the lack of what the Army calls “completed staff work”

    If I went into my commanding officer’s office and told him, “Boss, I’ve discovered something terrible!”, he’d look at me and say, “What is your recommended solution?” If I then said, “Beats me, that’s your job. I just look for problems”, I would have been thrown out of his office and soon been looking at the Help Wanted ads in a civilian newspaper. Now, instead of a single recommendation, I could present the CO with a menu of choices, explaining the pros and cons of each, and get his guidance as to the one he preferred, then go away, come up with a detailed plan of action based on his wishes, return to get his blessing and then execute it.

    This outfit just says, “Here’s a problem” and that’s it. If Atlas V is a problem, what is their recommended alternative? Anything else is worthless and a waste of the taxpayer’s money.

  • Concerned

    I wonder how many real engineers that have actually built and flown anything for a profit sit on that panel. I’m betting little to none.

  • Ken

    And SLS? It’s supposed to fly humans on the second launch. I guess they’ll say that human-rating was designed in the process.

  • GaryMike

    The day is fast approaching when private space stations, moon bases, and Martian bases will conduct their own affairs by their own selves and [deleted] the whims of Earthen bureaucrats.


    Off world means [deleted]

  • GaryMike: Adding an * or two to a curse word or abbreviating it doesn’t work for me. Both still violate my rules about no obscenities on BtB. I have deleted both, and you are now warned, don’t do it again.

    Why are people today so eager to debase themselves in this manner? If you are a civilized adult you simply don’t do this. You instead write with intelligence and thought, not emotion and crudeness.

  • GaryMike

    Points taken.

    I apologize for crossing your limits.

    It won’t happen again.

  • GaryMike

    I will choose more site appropriate sentiments in the future that express the same kinds of thoughts. ;-)

  • Jeff Wright

    I don’t mind the idea of a safety panel…but they are only now doing anything right.

    I prefer my taxes go to hardware

  • Star Bird

    Okay lets contac the Jupiter 2 mission see if they have reached Alpha Centari

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