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: No further Artemis Moon landings for at least two years after first in 2025

The tortoise appears to be dying: NASA today announced that there will be a two-plus year pause of Artemis missions to the lunar surface after it completes its hoped-for first manned Moon landing in 2025.

In presentations at a two-day meeting of the NASA Advisory Council’s Human Exploration and Operations Committee Jan. 18 and 19, agency officials said the Artemis 4 mission, the first after the Artemis 3 mission lands astronauts on the moon, will not attempt a landing itself.

Instead, Artemis 4 will be devoted to assembly of the lunar Gateway. The mission will deliver the I-Hab habitat module, developed by the European Space Agency and the Japanese space agency JAXA, to the Gateway. It will be docked with the first Gateway elements, the Power and Propulsion Element and Habitation and Logistics Outpost, which will launch together on a Falcon Heavy in late 2024 and spend a year spiraling out to the near-rectilinear halo orbit around the moon.

Essentially, the Biden administration appears to be switching back to NASA’s original plans, to require use of the Lunar Gateway station for any future lunar exploration, thus delaying that exploration considerably. Do not expect any of this schedule to take place as promised. The 2025 lunar landing will be delayed, as will all subsequent SLS launches for Artemis. The rocket is simply too complicated and cumbersome to even maintain one launch per year, while inserting Gateway into the mix only slows down lunar exploration even more.

NASA officials also revealed that they are limiting their lunar landing Starship contract with SpaceX to only that single planned ’25 Moon mission. For future manned missions to the Moon the agency will request new bids from the entire industry.

NASA’s Human Landing System (HLS) Option A award to SpaceX last year covers only development of a lander and a single crewed flight on Artemis 3. NASA will acquire future landings through a separate effort, called Lunar Exploration Transportation Services (LETS). The goal of LETS is to select one, and possibly more, companies to provide “sustainable” landing services.

The timing of LETS — a draft request for proposals is scheduled for release this spring — means there will be a gap of a couple years before the first landing service acquired through that program would be ready. “It’ll be about two years from the Option A award to the LETS award before we’ll have this sustainable lander,” Kirasich said. “It’s a different lander with more aggressive requirements than Option A.”

It appears that Jeff Bezos’ political lobbying efforts have paid off, and that NASA is now reopening bidding so that his consortium, led by Blue Origin, can once again compete for that lunar lander contract. Whether the Bezos’ team will be able to propose anything comparable to Starship is however very questionable.

None of this really hurts SpaceX. Its contract with NASA helps them develop a Starship lunar lander. Then, while NASA twiddles its thumbs building Gateway, it will be free to fly its own lunar missions, selling tickets on the open market. I suspect that — should NASA succeed in landing humans in ’25 — the next American manned landing on the Moon will be a bunch of SpaceX customers, not that second Artemis mission sometime in the late 2020s.

SpaceX of course will also be able to bid on that second lunar landing competition. And it will be hard for NASA not to award Starship a further contract, even if others are competing against it. Starship will be operational. The others will merely be proposed.

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32 comments

  • Gary

    Bob, during one of your “Space Show” appearances, I asked if you thought SpaceX would wait on NASA before it started its own moon landings. At the time you I believe I recall you saying that SpaceX would have to wait or it risked alienating NASA. That’s a paraphrase based on two months old memory so please correct me if I’m wrong.

    If that is the case, though, does your this story indicate you think SpaceX is only in that position until the first NASA landing and, after that, they are free to pursue and independent Moon landing strategy? I hope that is the case as it will speed things along.

  • Jeff Wright

    Biden cares less about space than Putin-or wants to sabotage SLS and Starship both at the behest of his Sino-Amazonian masters.

    Nice book on green lies called ‘Fallen Icon’ by Crockford…and Berlin had no hot water…hmm.

  • sippin_bourbon

    I would say a “flags and foot prints” mission.
    But since this one will include the woke agenda, I would call it “Flags, footprints and feeling” mission.

    Since it will likely only be that one mission, many more will start to ask why, and call for cancelation.

  • Questioner

    Can anyone tell me exactly what the purpose of these new flights to the moon is? What scientific knowledge should be gained? Is a permanent moon base being prepared? Or is it just about putting the first women and the first people of color on the moon?

    Thanks!

  • Gary: I might of said what you remember, but I suspect it was in the context of the competition to win the lunar landing contract as well as preparing for that first NASA landing. SpaceX is smart enough to realize that by deflecting resources to their own flights before successfully completing their contract with NASA, it will produce bad PR for them.

    Once that Artemis landing happens successfully, however, all limits are off. It will be like the tourist flights to ISS. SpaceX only started to do them after it had successfully launched NASA astronauts.

  • Gary

    Questioner,

    For NASA, I am sure you are right it is just a symbolic deal. For SpaceX, I can see going to the Moon being an opportunity to test systems for a Mars mission in an environment that is 3 days away vs. 3/4 of year or more away (I’m sure those figures are off, but scale should be roughly in the ball park).

  • sippin_bourbon

    Since there seems to be no interest in a pace to move stuff or people to the moon, then I cannot see how they are planning for a permanent base.

  • Questioner

    I don’t follow the Artemis program in detail because, apart from the SpaceX part, I find it uninteresting. Hence a question of understanding: Are we only talking about a single Moon landing (Artemis 3) that was commissioned? It really just seems to be about a political goal that I have already described.

  • I recall jokes about what the American expansion into the West would have looked like as a government program. With SLS/Artemis/Gateway, we can watch it happen.

  • wayne

    I find this all hilarious.
    We aren’t going to the Moon. Our economy is teetering on collapse, our leaders are all communists America haters, and they fully intend to kill all of us when they drag us under.

    Thomas ‘Doc’ Durant (foreshadowing)
    Hell on Wheels Se1 Ep1
    https://youtu.be/yAHL5oPXOD0
    2:59

    “Make no mistake, blood will be spilled, lives will be lost, fortunes will be made, men will be ruined. There will be betrayal, scandal, a perfidy of epic proportions.”

  • BtB’s Original Mark

    Wayne & sippin_bourbon: I’ll agree with sippin_bourbon that the proposed NASA moon landing is a “flags and foot prints” mission. However I think geopolitical strategy is also at play. If you have time, here are two quick read opinion pieces by Mark Whittington: ‘The new race to the moon: the Artemis Alliance vs. the Sino-Russian Axis’ & ‘Japan is joining the push to return to the moon’:

    https://thehill.com/opinion/technology/545280-the-new-race-to-the-moon-the-artemis-alliance-vs-the-sino-russian-axis

    https://thehill.com/opinion/technology/564718-japan-is-joining-the-push-to-return-to-the-moon

    I wish we addressed on BtB this perspective of geopolitics as part of the Space Race.
    Enjoy your weekend.

  • Questioner

    BtB’s Original Mark:

    What is this “flag and footprint” mission intended to prove in geopolitical matters that was not already proven by Apollo 11 in July 1969?
    There is no race!

  • BtB’s Original Mark

    Questioner – I am speculating, but I think this “flag and footprint” mission is basically public relations window dressing for the larger strategic mission of establishing a Space infrastructure (both in Earth Orbit and Cislunar) that within a decade will become a major engine of American and Western (through Artemis) political, economic and military power. In addition to diversity hire astronauts, the other American Media theme will be a new Space Race with China. This upcoming Space Race is founded on the reality of the current Chinese long-term civil, commercial, and military Space program. Let me know what you think about that line of thinking.

  • sippin_bourbon

    The only thing established at that pace is something for politician’s to use in the next election cycle.

    Most of what we know about the the Moon was gained by the Apollo landings. One more landing may contribute to this. Let’s hope.

    But an established base could potentially open the flood gates of data. Even if it in it manned in spurts,. Few weeks at a time, several times a year, the data gathered would keep astronomers, geologists, astrobiologists, etc, busy for years.

    We are 50 years behind the ball, IMHO. So maybe the tech from the 70s would have been difficult. But I feel we no longer have that excuse

  • Edward

    Questioner asked: “Can anyone tell me exactly what the purpose of these new flights to the moon is? What scientific knowledge should be gained? Is a permanent moon base being prepared? Or is it just about putting the first women and the first people of color on the moon?

    For NASA, it is clear that there is no long-term plan, as they have revealed none. However, NASA is as interested in the water at the poles as are the private commercial space companies, explaining why everyone is interested in exploring the poles, but NASA lacks much incentive to use that water.

    For commercial space companies, their interest has been the commercial use of that water for travel about the solar system. For example, SpaceX could get better performance from Starship to Mars if they could refuel at a distance from the Earth that is near the Moon’s orbit, and by using lunar water for refueling, they would need fewer tanker launches from Earth for both Martian and Lunar expeditions. SpaceX has been talking about their long-term plan for more than a decade, so they must be interested in lunar water.

    There have been many articles and several books talking about the many uses for the Moon, and just as we began to see more and more companies using low Earth orbit with the drop in the cost of getting to — and operating in — orbit, we should see more and more companies using the Moon in ways these articles and books suggest. We may even see tourist flights to the Moon similar to the tourist flights we already have to space.

    Because the world’s governments were the gatekeepers to access to space, there has been a limit to what companies could afford to do and to make money doing, largely limited to communications satellites. We are now seeing such mundane services as space weather monitoring, which up to now was a government purview:
    https://behindtheblack.com/behind-the-black/points-of-information/latvian-bulgarian-commercial-partnership-to-launch-cubesats-to-monitor-space-weather/

    As far as I know, no one is working on a permanent Moon base, but we do not yet know what we will need in order to mine the water at the poles and to what other purposes we will use the Moon. Working on a permanent base right now may be premature, as we don’t know whether we want one at the South Pole, another at the North Pole, or how many in between.

  • Questioner

    BtB’s Original Mark:

    What exactly is the space race with China about? You probably mean mainly manned space activities? Do you really think that today’s major technological advances are due to human spaceflight? If not, then demonstrating technological superiority through manned missions really makes sense, especially since manned spaceflight requires most of its technology is needed to -sustain itself and can hardly be used elsewhere?

    What do you think the race is about? About space tourism as a moneymaker? About the mining of platinum in the asteroid belt and near-Earth asteroids? A manufacturing industry on the moon? For the military use of space only the earth orbit is interesting and manned missions are hardly needed. If you mean Amerika need space soldiers, please enlighten me.

  • BtB’s Original Mark

    Questioner- As I mentioned in my earlier comment, I am speculating. But here are some draft thoughts on American strategy in the New Space Race covering the next two decades.

    * America needs to be a leader of a powerful Alliance in order to retain its status as the leading SuperPower.
    * France & Germany are no longer interested in contributing to an American led alliance. France & Germany’s strategic foreign policy goals diverge significantly from American strategic goals.
    * Once this Ukrainian swamp fever burns off – NATO will be a shell of it former self, and not that strategically important except as a captive market for selling American made armaments.
    * The next American administration will back off from being needlessly confrontational with Russia.
    * The Alliance that America will focus on the next 50 years will have it’s backbone based on the current Artemis Accords. Militarily Space is the ultimate high ground, and America will be counted on to defend Satellites and Space Stations.
    * China is already acknowledged as the leading competitor to America on the global stage and in Space. Many other nations will side with America against China in the Space domain.
    * This effort will be fused to American leadership in commercial Space.
    * I’ll call this new alliance “The New Artemis Federation”. It’s current members in addition to the US are: Japan, Republic of Korea, United Kingdom, Italy, Canada, Poland, Ukraine, New Zealand, Australia, Israel, UAE, Brazil, Luxembourg, and Mexico.
    * By 2040, “The New Artemis Federation” will have multiple Space Stations and Moon bases.

    I look forward to your opinion of my speculations.

  • Questioner

    BtB’s Original Mark:

    Please give me a convincing explanation why for all the activities and events included in your list the man in space is essential.

  • BtB’s Original Mark

    Questioner: “The so-called “peace” is an interval between wars”

    * Empires require military doctrine, strategy, and tactics.
    * 21st Century Space War doctrine focuses on maintaining a Cold Peace and retaining the advantage during the occasional crisis.
    * The Rules of Engagement will focus on Deception, Disruption, and Denial.
    * The military officer is required to direct his troops to act tactically within the Rules of Engagement.
    * The individual soldier will take the specific actions required to man the battlements, and in a Crisis to deceive & disrupt the enemy.

  • sippin_bourbon

    From https://www.nasa.gov/specials/artemis/

    With Artemis missions, NASA will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon, using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before. We will collaborate with commercial and international partners and establish the first long-term presence on the Moon.

    From the attached PDF providing program overview:
    Chapter 3:
    To do this, …. and
    establish the Artemis Base Camp at the South Pole of the Moon.

    So a base in part of the plan, and the location ,generally speaking, has been selected.

    But again, at the pace suggested does not indicate any real desire to accomplish this, or many of the other goals suggested.

    This is just “flags, footprints, and feelings”, bragging rights for politicians, and a jobs program for select constituencies.

  • If we’re ever going to have a serious space presence, we need resources that do not have to be lifted from Earth. In order to do that, we need people nearby. Telepresence will mostly work on the moon, but very little further. For those people, we do not now how much gravity is required. We know zero is too little. That’s it. Without putting people on the moon, the only way to find out is to build a spinning habitat. See the catch-22?

    Until we can not lift everything from Earth, going to the moon and testing 1/6g is cheaper than building that habitat – and finding out that 1/6g is not sufficient and the habitat cannot be spun faster because it was built to 1/6g specs.

    That is why people are _required_ on the moon: To see what happens to them. Meanwhile, they can be hands-on-site for when telepresence fails in the mining, refining, smelting processes. That is very definitely a “meanwhile”; we could just wait until automation is sufficiently advanced – but we still wouldn’t know about the gravity effects on people.

  • Questioner

    markedup2:

    Do you really think humans on the Moon are cheaper than building a spinning habitat in LEO? I can’t really agree with that.

    I agree, if the man on the Moon can handle the 1/6 g over long time (years!), then he is able to handle Martian gravity can too.

  • BtB’s Original Mark

    Questioner – so how much more convincing is required for your requested explanation that man is essential for the next decades of Space Exploration in Earth Orbit & the Moon?

    Man is ‘Essential’ to the next Space Race primarily because there is a significant military component to this Space a Race.

    Last August at the Sea Air Space Conference, the head of U.S. Space Command Gen. James Dickinson told attendees: “The behavior of some of our adversaries in space may surprise you,”…If similar actions have been taken in other domains, they’d likely be considered provocative, aggressive, or maybe even irresponsible. And in response, the U.S. government would take corresponding actions using all levers of national power, a demarche, or a sanction or something to indicate we won’t tolerate that type of behavior, but we’re not quite there yet in space policy.”

    Bob Zimmerman on BtB has provided solid reporting on the Russian anti-satellite test that occurred last November.

    In addition to that incident, there is other aggressive international elbowing over the rules of satellite operations. There is no consensus yet on what constitutes unacceptable aggression in Earth orbit. The same issues will inevitably happen on the moon. There is no way around the requirement for the military to engage in this next Space Race. In Earth Orbit and on the Moon. men (and some women) will be an essential part of each stage of the next decades of Space Exploration.

  • As I have said and written repeatedly now for nigh on forty years, why should robots have all the fun?

    We explore space not just for practical reasons, but because as humans exploration is one of the activities that defines us as a species. Naysayers can complain till they are blue in the face, but people will go to the Moon, Mars, the asteroids and beyond.

    And if it doesn’t happen, it will because humanity is dying as a species.

  • BtB’s Original Mark

    Piggybacking onto Mr. Z’s defense of the Role of Man in Space Exploration, I nominate the following for this evening’s pause:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67pHoVsKgp4

    This was inspired by the famous ‘Blue Danube Waltz’ scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZoSYsNADtY

  • Cotour

    But what of: Muscle wasting? Bone issues? Radiation over exposure? Sex / reproduction in space?

    Long term how are the issues of gravity which human being apparently need to exist and reproduce and negating the risks of radiation accomplished?

    Space is apparently a cool place to visit, but long term?

  • Max

    Questioner asked;
    “Please give me a convincing explanation why for all the activities and events included in your list the man in space is essential”

    Is anything that Man does essential?

    Is there anywhere on earth worthy of a challenge? Any place that has not been explored? I suppose the deep ocean (boring) or Siberia or the northwest territories… perhaps what’s under Antarctica?

    You have a fundamental misunderstanding of the human condition. Have you ever watched sports game and wondered what was being accomplished, manufactured or the purpose behind the action? Most things humans do is purely for entertainment… Absolutely no purpose behind it whatsoever. Movies and TV excel in its uselessness and yet drive an economy of billions!

    The human race is currently expelling a lot of energy driving down a circular road leading nowhere. Others can look up and see new challenges in near infinite space to explore with unclaimed land around thousands of moons and astroids with far greater rewards just waiting for someone brave enough to make the first step.

    (Sorry, robots have limited capabilities)

    Current situation is right for that first step, had USA gone alone we would’ve dominated the future that belongs to all mankind. Us versus them never ends well… The accords are the best hope for a structured future that does not end in war or misunderstandings. Learn as we go, tackle one problem at a time in a joint effort. If structured correctly and efficiently, others will join as not to be left out… China’s competition will keep us focused… the future will tell who has the best methods.
    What happens next depends on what we find when we get there. If there’s gold? Then you can count on gold rush.
    The children of thousands of billionaires buying their own tesla spacecraft luxury cruiser to discover their own mining claim on their own personal astroid….
    Forget about that retirement community in the center of Luna colony… Would you rather get up in the morning to look up through the dome on Europa to see Saturn and its rings filling the entire sky?
    To make all of this be possible, will only take a discovery of an energy source. A sizable amount of uranium will open the entire solar system to unlimited exploration.
    We will be able to make our own water, fuel and heat which will pave the way for everything else we need. A worthy challenge that will not only be productive, but extremely fun and competitive.

    Humans were made for this!

    When earths moon collided with the earth billions of years ago, 2 miles of its crust transferred to the earth creating the continents on top of the old atmosphere of calcium carbonate, exposing the moon’s deep inner core to accessible mining.
    Once a manufacturing complex has been established, spacers will no longer needed earth for any raw materials except computer chips, luxury items/foods. This is for the best now that mankind is bent on destroying itself with custom-made viruses.

    Nowhere in the solar system will habitation be possible without technology, earth is the only place we can live on the surface. (Even on earth we need protection from the elements)
    Boring machine technology and implementation creating underground habitats on moon, Mars, mercury, etc. will become useful on earth in the future for independent colony co-ops using geothermal as a power source to create their own environment… both on continents, and under the ocean floor like Seaquest InVisioned.

    This is mankinds future… to think of the alternative is horrifying. A “dystopia” dark age.
    The ambition of the demigods knows no bounds, the lack of morality InVisions only themselves as mankind’s greatest hope… Or else.
    A zero carbon future literally means zero people to consume carbon… A cybernetic prison world were breeding is strictly controlled….

    Space is looking better every day.

  • pawn

    This whole Apollo recreation was intended to keep the NASA launch infrastructure, supply chain and personal from going to the weeds. That is all. The new woke agenda was conveniently embraced in the last couple of years to appease the militant leftists and others who have come to power lately who were questioning it’s relevance.

    SpaceX has changed everything because at the time SLS was being born no one in thought of or wanted the private sector to become competitive.

    Everything is different now. It is now obvious to just about everyone, even those getting a NASA paycheck, that SLS is an absurd waste of money.

    In my opinion, NASA is very patiently waiting for the inevitable SpaceX “accident” to jamb the knife in. I’m afraid that social media has become so powerful that Mr Musk and his vision will not survive something spectacularly misfortunate and the public has long forgotten NASA record of malfeasance.

  • Do you really think humans on the Moon are cheaper than building a spinning habitat in LEO?

    I have not run the numbers – I have no idea where to even start. Here’s my logic:

    Land a Starship on the moon (aka HLS), tip it over, bury it under regolith. You know have a 1/6g habitat. That’s probably three or four missions – none of which need to be round-trip. (e.g. tip it over with what? bury it how?)

    That’s a lot less mass lifted from Earth than constructing a station that can support the stress of spinning – even if it is just two arms with pods on the ends rather than a full hoop.

    Lifting the additional fuel mass is something Musk needs to perfect anyway, if he wants to get to Mars.

    We have no equipment for building things in zero-G. All of it would need to be built from nothing. On the moon, you are starting, not ending, with 1/6g. We do have equipment that works in gravity; no doubt there will be embarrassingly stupid mistakes made (some overpowered thing flips its base rig over), but things won’t go flying away in “death on the next revolution” orbits.

    BTW: In both cases, I think we need next-gen spacesuits. The clumsy things we have now are not suited for construction work (or even safety with the long rebreathing prep). Maybe waldos on robots with thrusters (for space) or wheels (for moon); they’d have to self-stabilize so the controller could focus on the work. Moderately helpful for Mars if the humans can be in some sort of “base habitat” or even a ship in orbit.

  • markedup2

    Now that I think about it, the equipment savings may not be there. It would need to be electric, which means that on the moon it will sit in the dark and freeze every two weeks, for two weeks. That cannot be good for close tolerances and lubricants. It’s always sunny in orbit. And the nasty-sharp regolith “dust” will be an issue. There is no dust in orbit. Perhaps I’m overestimating the value of gravity.

  • Cotour

    To my long-term point about humans in space or off world sexual reproduction:

    https://www.axios.com/reproduction-sex-in-space-research-0f20f3a2-d8d1-46a6-bb97-f0f94f28d20b.html

    This is still an unknown, and it may well be undoable and potentially dangerous.

    For life / human life to develop in the gravity well of the earth may well be an issue that requires at least some measure of gravity in order to successfully reproduce.

    No sex in space? Sex not allowed? Sex in space may threaten an entire long term mission?

    Where is the Star Trek like “artificial” gravity?

    Q: Once you live in space for a certain amount of time can you never again safely return to earth and live to tell about it?

  • Edward

    Questioner seems concerned that our exploration of space is unessential and that colonization off Earth would be bad for the children.

    Animals in nature explore new territories, so why shouldn’t mankind?

    We haven’t even explored raising the offspring of lab animals in space, so concerns about raising human children is based upon conjecture and fear.

    We have people who are willing to spend their own money and risk their own lives in order to explore the Moon and Mars. Not allowing them to do so would be tyrannical. Denying humans the freedom and liberty to explore the solar system and beyond is against human nature.

    Why not spend money and resources to build spinning space stations as well as to build lunar and Martian bases? Why limit ourselves to only one? If we haven’t built spinning space stations yet but plan to go to the Moon and to Mars, then I think we can deduce where our space exploration priorities lie.

    It is reassuring that there are people who are willing to rise to the challenge of exploring and settling new worlds and to building stations and settlements in space. Meeting challenges rather than shying from them is one of humanity’s strengths.

    Questioner, however, has closed his mind to these possibilities. He cannot be persuaded, because he does not want to be, explaining why he continues to speak out against such explorations. However, it is always a good thing for us to discuss these issues among ourselves and risk him calling us an echo chamber.

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