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 target launch date for SLS in February ’22

As expected, the first unmanned demo launch of NASA’s SLS rocket has now been scheduled for a February launch window.

The first launch window for NASA’s Artemis I mission opens on February 12 at 5:56 p.m. EDT – yes, we have dates and times for this long-awaited mission. The February window lasts two weeks, with the first half of that window allowing a six-week mission and a four-week mission on the back half.

If for some reason NASA cannot launch in that firs window, they have back up windows in March and April. These windows exist because the plan is to send the Orion capsule to orbit the Moon from four to six weeks, and then return to Earth.

The announcement came the day after NASA had finally stacked the Orion capsule on top of the SLS rocket, essentially completing the rocket’s assembly.

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11 comments

  • Ray Van Dune

    I have heard little about the SLS mission except the launch date of the rocket, as if the Orion capsule is an afterthought. It has not had enough flight time IMHO to merit that status. Is the goal of the mission simply to maintain a livable environment for 4-6 weeks?

  • Richard M

    “Is the goal of the mission simply to maintain a livable environment for 4-6 weeks?”

    No, on either point! 1) At last check, the Orion won’t have a complete life support system, and 2) the mission is only 25 days long, not 4-6 weeks. I believe that it’s otherwise a complete Orion CSM…well, save for not having a docking hatch and docking software.

    I think it’s mostly to demonstrate they can put the whole thing into a TLI, then insert into a retrograde orbit using the SM, and then insert into an earth return trajectory, and recover successfully. Sort of an Apollo 8 mission, only without any humans on board.

  • Lee Stevenson

    I’m pleased I’m not scheduled to launch upon it…. ( I’d take a crew dragon…) …. Any got the odds on a launch fail?

  • Ray Van Dune

    NASA seems to be living in “sunk-costs-fallacy” world with respect to SLS and Boeing Starliner. I figure one of the two isn’t going to get a chance to succeed, and perhaps neither one. The political winds will be blowing awfully strong against continuing to put money into perceived outdated losers while SpaceX and others are succeeding. Of course one spectacular SpaceX failure could re-level the playing field quickly.

    Ps. I know Boeing is footing the bill for Starliner re-work, but NASA has already invested more in it than Boeing has, and the bean-counters at the latter might welcome the chance to get out while the “gettin’s good”. But what a morale destroying move that would be… maybe company-destroying too!

  • Richard M

    I must extend and revise my comment in my last post, regarding Artemis 1 duration. From SpaceNews today:

    Originally, NASA projected just a one-week launch period per month. However, he said mission planners found a way to double the length of the period by changing parameters of the mission. If the launch takes place in the first half of the period, the mission will last six weeks, versus four weeks for launches in the second half. The difference, he said, is taking an extra lap in Orion’s near-rectilinear halo orbit around the moon, which sets up the desired landing conditions.

    https://spacenews.com/nasa-sets-artemis-1-launch-for-no-earlier-than-february/

    So, depending on the part of the launch window in which the launch actually happens, Artemis 1 *could* be as long as 6 weeks. So Ray Van Dune was correct, sorta, depending on the breaks.

    Still, the mission objectives are what I noted: life support per se does not seem to be a primary test objective – though they’ll be measuring radiation exposure, if nothing else. That will be plenty ambitious enough for NASA, given their institutional knowledge at this point. Unlike SpaceX, they really can’t afford a failure.

  • Richard M

    NASA seems to be living in “sunk-costs-fallacy” world with respect to SLS and Boeing Starliner. I figure one of the two isn’t going to get a chance to succeed, and perhaps neither one.

    I do believe that both of these vehicles *will* get to launch, almost certainly in 2022. The difficulty both face is that neither can easily afford a mission failure. This is not true of SpaceX’s Starship orbital attempt, where the only real risk is a RUD that demolishes the launch site. They have SN21 and B5 largely completed already, and will probably have two new stack prototypes more or less ready for test flight by the time the SN20/B4 launch takes place. It’s a hardware rich program that doesn’t have Congress breathing down its neck.

    Honestly, at this point, I have more confidence in SLS and Orion than I do in Starliner. I really do wonder what NASA will do if OFT-2 is a failure. For NASA’s sake, I *hope* it’s not, but nothing about Boeing’s management of Starliner instills any confidence in me right now.

  • Michael

    The SRB’s were stacked March 11’ish this year. What happens if the first two launch windows are missed and we pass March 11 2022? I thought they SRB’s need to be used within a year. Waiver or unstack?

  • Edward

    Ray Van Dune wrote: “NASA seems to be living in ‘sunk-costs-fallacy’ world with respect to SLS and Boeing Starliner.

    Maybe not. I mildly disagree for the case of SLS, because the alternative is to rely upon the not-yet proven Starship. On the other hand, returning to the Moon in a sustainable way probably should not cost so much and should definitely not take so long. Congress and NASA have a history of not cutting losses and starting over again. If they did, then maybe their projects would not go so badly over budget with such badly slipped schedules.

    I very much disagree for the case of Starliner. Starliner’s original problem was one that should have been avoided, but the current problem shows us that what was thought to be the proper usage of these valves has been misunderstood since their first use in spacecraft. Abandoning Starliner now would be like abandoning Dragon after its test stand explosion a couple of years ago. This is merely a problem to be solved in what seems to be an otherwise working system. If we abandoned every space project that had problems, then we would not have ever reached space. Some cost overruns and some schedule slips are to be expected, and there is not yet a sunk-cost-fallacy condition here, and NASA does not pay the extra cost. This is still a relatively new industry without nearly as much flight experience as the aviation industry had at this time in its life.

    The beauty of the fixed price contract is that NASA pays a fixed price for the service, and Boeing has to pay for any overruns. Boeing is very likely to eventually have a flying Starliner, so NASA will likely get what it paid for — unlike SLS and JWST, in which NASA is getting much less than it has already paid for.

    Richard M wrote: “Unlike SpaceX, they really can’t afford a failure.

    SpaceX is currently in development testing phase, where failure is a learning experience. When SpaceX gets to the phase where Orion is now, a failure will be just as bad as for Orion. It would have been just as bad for SpaceX if they had had similar problems as Starliner, just as it was bad for them when valve problems caused a test-stand explosion of a Dragon they were counting on for an inflight-abort test.

    Changing topics, slightly: Boeing used to be a well respected company, because they had had half a century of success. These days, much more is expected of them. The 737-MAX problem is partially the fault of the airline companies, as many foreign airlines train their pilots to monitor their aircraft rather than fly them, so these pilots have a harder time getting out of sticky situations. This mentality of relying upon the aircraft to fly itself is why Asiana 214 crashed in San Fransisco, a decade ago. Two pilots and an instructor did not notice that the aircraft had exited autopilot on landing — until it was too late.

    I really do wonder what NASA will do if OFT-2 is a failure.

    Most likely, NASA will keep Boeing to its contract. It does not cost NASA much to do so, and if they abandon Starliner then they are stuck without their own backup method to get people to ISS (other than Soyuz).

  • Richard M

    Hello Michael,

    “The SRB’s were stacked March 11’ish this year. What happens if the first two launch windows are missed and we pass March 11 2022? I thought they SRB’s need to be used within a year. Waiver or unstack?”

    Apparently NGIS has stretched the certifcation for the SRBs out a few more months beyond the initial 12 (and the counting clock starts from the stacking of the scond segment, which I believe was in February). They can delay well into spring, though not much further. I don’t know where the cutoff is now, but an April-May launch is still considered safe, according to the NSF team.

  • Richard M

    Hello Edward,

    SpaceX is currently in development testing phase, where failure is a learning experience. When SpaceX gets to the phase where Orion is now, a failure will be just as bad as for Orion.

    With respect, I don’t see how that follows.

  • Edward

    Richard M,
    You wrote: “With respect, I don’t see how that follows.

    Which part don’t you see? That Starship is in a different phase (proof of concept part of development) than Orion (proof of readiness for manned flight) or that it would be bad to have a Starship failure during the launch that is intended to prove it is ready for manned flight?

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