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 sets March 18th for next SLS static fire test

NASA has now scheduled the next static fire test of the core stage of its SLS rocket for March 18th.

The background:

NASA attempted the hot fire test on January 16, but computers terminated the test after 67 seconds instead of 485 seconds because of the conservative test parameters that were set. This is not a test vehicle, but the actual core stage that will be used for the first SLS launch. NASA needs to ensure the testing does not damage it.

NASA decided to redo the test and scheduled it for February 25, but a problem with a pre-valve forced another delay.

If this March test is successful, it will take a month to prep the core stage for shipment by barge to Florida, where it will take several months to prep it for launch linked to its two solid rocket boosters now stacked and ready for launch. If that schedule moves fast, NASA is still aiming for a late ’21 launch, though most industry experts expect that date to shift into early ’22.

If the March test has any problems however this schedule goes out the window. Worse, it increases the chance that the two boosters will have reached the end of their 12-month use-by date (approximately December ’21), and will have to be dissembled and inspected. If that happens the launch will certainly be delayed by many months.

There is another possibility. NASA might waive that 12-month use-by date requirement for the boosters. If the agency does this, however, it will be another example of the same management mistakes that caused both the Challenger and Columbia shuttle failures, a desire to put aside proper engineering to meet a schedule.

One more thought: That it takes about four months to assemble the solid rocket boosters for SLS illustrates well the cumbersome and inefficient nature of this rocket. Launches not only cannot happen within days, they really cannot happen for months. Depending on such a rocket with such a low launch cadence will make the exploration of the solar system practically impossible.


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.


  • Edward

    Robert wrote: “That it takes about four months to assemble the solid rocket boosters for SLS illustrates well the cumbersome and inefficient nature of this rocket.

    Most likely this assembly took longer than it will during operations, because this is the first time that they have done this stackup. Despite the Congressional order, it is not quite the same as on the Space Shuttle, so the differences need verification even at the assembly level. Think of this as a pathfinder flight unit. Operations are probably being done with greater care and more paperwork than later flight units. SLS-Orion has more major components than the Space Shuttle, but we can hope that their final assembly operations take only a little longer for SLS-Orion than for the Shuttle.

  • Andi

    Small edit in first paragraph after the background: “ready for launch “

  • Andi: Fixed. Thank you as always.

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 *