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 document: Starship orbital flight in March ’22

Starship orbital flight date?
Click for full image.

According to a NASA proposal to observe and measure the temperatures on Starship’s thermal protection during its return to Earth from orbit, that flight is now tentatively scheduled for March ’22.

The graphic to the right highlights the pertinent language in the poster presentation.

It must be noted that the poster might not be telling us when Starship will first launch, but when the designers of the camera system will be ready to film. The two are different. Still, the slowdown in flight testing at Boca Chica by SpaceX since July suggests there may be some truth to this date. That date also seems more reasonable now in connection with the FAA’s regulatory pace, which still needs to provide the final approval of SpaceX’s environmental reassessment of its Boca Chica launch site.

It also seems to me that the March ’22 date would be very convenient for NASA, as it almost certainly guarantees that Starship will reach orbit after SLS, thus avoiding for the agency a very big public relations embarrassment. I would not be surprised at all if the Biden administration and NASA’s top administrators, led by Bill Nelson, are purposely pressuring the FAA to make sure that Starship orbital flight is delayed until after the first SLS test flight, now expected in the January/February time frame.

There is also the possibility that SpaceX’s targeted launch dates were unrealistically optimistic. The company had a lot of work it needed to do prior to launch on its orbital launch facility at Boca Chica, and that work could not go forward while test flights and static fire tests were taking place. Pausing those tests has allowed the launch facility work to move forward aggressively.


I must unfortunately ask you for your financial support because I do not depend on ads and rely entirely on the generosity of readers to keep Behind the Black running. You can either make a one time donation for whatever amount you wish, or you sign up for a monthly subscription ranging from $2 to $15 through Paypal or $3 to $50 through Patreon.

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 not only keep this site free from advertisements, I do not use the corrupt social media companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook to promote my work. 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

Or you can donate by using Zelle through your bank. You will need to give my name and email address (found at the bottom of the "About" page). The best part of this electronic option is that no fees will be deducted! What you donate will be what I receive.


  • Mark

    Behind the Black is focused on all things Space, but with this story I became interested in the plane that is mentioned in the graphic insert – the WB-57F Research Aircraft.

    I looked into it and found out that this plane is a variation of the Martin/General Dynamics RB-57F Canberra which was a highly specialized strategic reconnaissance aircraft developed by General Dynamics in the 1960s.
    And that plane was derived from the Martin B-57 Canberra tactical bomber.
    The RB-57F was later used by the Air Weather Service for weather reconnaissance (designated as an WB-57F), and later by NASA for high-altitude atmospheric research.

    When the NASA space shuttle went back to space in 2005, the flight was observed by the two WB-57Fs, fitted with a telescopic camera turret on the nose. They are regarded as excellent platforms for carrying experiments, not merely because of their payload capacity, which is greater than that of NASA’s U-2 machines, but also because the WB-57Fs are two-seaters, allowing a researcher to go along for the ride and supervise experiments.

    They don’t seem to be close to retirement yet, and in fact NASA obtained a third WB-57F — yanked from mothballs in the “boneyard” at Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona in 2011, to be refurbished by Sierra Nevada Corporation in Colorado, and flown on to NASA in late 2013.

    Lastly – look at a picture of this plane and to me it is strangely beautiful with its large wing area.

    The link is

    I’m curious what Bob or any former aerospace engineer out there thinks about the plane.

  • Mark

    Also on YouTube, the channel ‘Unusual Attitudes’ has a good video (less than 5 minutes) on NASAs WB 57F from 2019. The comments to the video are also interesting.

    I think these planes are more than 50 years old & I think they’re very cool!

  • Brian

    The first test flight of Starship 20 and Booster 4 will happen long before March 22.

  • Mark

    I can’t believe BtB has ZERO aerospace engineers or plane enthusiasts among those who have read this post.

  • Mark: I think you are being unreasonable to complain about no responses this quickly. People have their own lives. I am certain someone who loves planes will chime in.

    Not my expertise, so I have nothing to say.

  • Mark

    Bob, you are correct as the moderator to call that out. Unreasonable complaining is never helpful. Reasonable complaining is another matter of course.
    However reading other commentators today and in the last week, I know I’m not the only one that occasionally vents, and besides that I’m still ticked off about someone’s derogatory comment regarding John Batchelor.
    I guess I’ll just go back to my usual haphazard observations on the downfall of the Global American Empire, and the undeclared war on America and the world by the Chinese Communist Party. We all have our pet peeves, but I do admire that you remain some rare (maybe endangered) breed of Optimist.

  • Jeff Wright

    I don’t think NASA sandbagged SS-SH…things happen. You seem not willing to spot sympathy for SLS delays. I on the other hand understand that SSSH is a whole new ball game…so I can understand slowdowns…esp now.

    A big wing Canberra was hit by three Guidelines like the one that struck Powers’ U2. The Chinese called it a fighter kill. Now they lob FOBS.

    Thanx Wal-Mart! That should also be called “capitalism in space’ since free trade libertarianism paid for their efforts-otherwise they would still be on bikes and be where the norks are now,

  • Col Beausabre

    The WB-57 is a renamed RF-57 which was derived from the Martin B-57 light bomber, two squadrons of which served in Vietnam.

    The B-57 is the American version of the English Electric Canberra, the RAF’s first jet bomber, which dates back to the late 1940’s (designed in response to a 1944 requirement for a Mosquito successor)

    “In June 2006, the RAF retired the last of its Canberras, 57 years after its first flight. Three of the Martin B-57 variant remain in service, performing meteorological and re-entry tracking work for NASA,”

    Not bad for a first attempt, Bill Petter

  • Col Beausabre

    Ack! Bob could you change “RF-57” to “RB-57” Thank you!

  • Mark

    Col B.
    Given that NASA is using its WB-57F Research Aircraft as the platform for new instrumentation to observe a 2022 Starship during hypersonic reentry, it would be nice if commercial space managers and young engineers knew more about the British aircraft designer William Edward “Teddy” Petter. In order to design that first Canberra, he must have been working in an environment that encouraged focused effort and innovation.
    A colleague of Petter remarked of him “although Petter was generally thought to be difficult I found him logical and ‘ahead of the game’ and totally oriented on making an enormous success of the Canberra. That it achieved this was due to his personal ability to recognise the technical argument and act on it correctly.”

    More info on Petter can be found at:

    I once picked up a book at the library on the mechanics involved with aircraft design but did not have the aptitude for the subject. Later in life however, it’s usually an enjoyable exercise to learn new things outside my wheelhouse.

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 *