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 signs deal with Russians for one Soyuz seat to ISS

Citing a need to provide some back-up in case there are more delays getting the American manned capsules being built by SpaceX and Boeing into operation, NASA yesterday announced that it has signed a deal with Roscosmos to buy one seat on the October Soyuz launch to ISS.

The statement did not disclose the value of the deal, but NASA spokesman Josh Finch told SpaceNews the agreement is valued at $90.25 million. That includes the seat on the Soyuz spacecraft and various training, pre-launch and post-landing services. In addition, Finch said that NASA will compensate Roscosmos for bumping a Russian cosmonaut off that Soyuz mission by flying an unspecified amount of Russian cargo to the station on NASA commercial cargo spacecraft.

I wonder if there are other political reasons behind this deal, besides insuring American access to ISS. $90 million is a lot of money to the Russians, and considering their impending loss of income from NASA (with us no longer buying Soyuz seats in the future) as well as their loss of most of their commercial launch business, it could be that NASA managers wanted to shore up Roscosmos’s financial situation. Remember, at NASA there are many who swear a greater loyalty to space operations from all countries, even at the expense of the United States.


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.


  • Jay

    I noticed on the scheduled third manned flight of the Dragon, there will be a Russian. Is NASA charging the Russians for that seat?

  • Jay: Heh. As far as I know, the Russians get free rides, as part of the old barter agreement when the shuttle was flying. I think we simply continued it after the shuttle was gone.

    As I said, “there are many who swear a greater loyalty to space operations from all countries, even at the expense of the United States.”

  • Rose

    The continued barter agreement will mean one Russian will fly for free on each Commercial Crew flight and one American will fly for free on each Soyuz. This staggers the crew rotation to the benefit to all involved.

    NASA wanted it to start with the first post-certification, operational crewed mission, but the Russians said they wouldn’t trust a Crew Dragon until it had flown at least two crewed missions. I assume that decision involved a lot more politics than actual safety concerns.

    Doug Loverro, when announcing today that the Crew Dragon has been mounted to its Falcon 9, also mentioned that Boeing is on schedule for the repeat of it’s uncrewed flight test later this year, “entering crewed service soon after that.”

    Will the Russians want to see two successful crewed Starliner flights before they hitch a ride on one?

  • pzatchok

    ” I would like to welcome you to the Space-X Crewed Dragon flight number 4.
    Today we will be lifting off at 2:30 pm from Cape Canaveral for a flight to the International Space Station. Our meal today will be blackened salmon with fresh greens and a nice sherbet for desert. Today’s movie will be Shrek.”

    So please sit back and enjoy your flight.”

  • Rose

    Russian sources reported back in February that NASA was negotiating for two seats — one in MS-17 (the October flight mentioned above which will deliver Stephen Bowen) and one in MS-18 (Spring 2021) — expected to total $170 million.
    I’ve not read anything since about a seat on MS-18, and assume NASA skipped the “volume discount”, figuring they would negotiate for a seat on MS-18 only if they had problems with DM-2 or USCV-1.

  • Steve C

    I hope NASA lets SpaceX install a 4th seat so the Russians can sit in the back of the bus.

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 *