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 to scientists: Don’t expect to use SLS for science missions for at least a decade

In a briefing held by the planetary science community to propose its future missions for the next decade, a NASA official explained that there will likely be no available launches on NASA’s SLS rocket for planetary missions until the late 2020s, and more likely not until the next decade.

While NASA has a goal of being able to launch three SLS missions in a 24-month period, and two in 12 months, the supply chain is currently limited to one SLS per year. That will change by the early 2030s, [the official] said, growing to two per year and thus creating opportunities for additional SLS missions beyond the Artemis program. That will be enabled by changes to at the Michoud Assembly Facility to increase core stage production and a “block upgrade” to the RS-25 engine used on that core stage that will be cheaper and faster to produce.

The official also claimed that the cost of buying a launch on SLS is at best going to be $800 million, but that price won’t be available until the ’30s when SLS’s are launching more frequently. Until then, it appears NASA will charge one billion per launch.

All of this is pure fantasy on NASA’s part. Once cheaper and more usable private commercial rockets come on line, such as SpaceX’s Starship, SLS will go the way of the horse buggy. And this is likely to happen much sooner than 2030, more likely in the next three years.

Moreover, for both cost and practical reasons I cannot see any planetary scientist planning a mission on SLS, ever. There are now much cheaper options that are actually flying, such as SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, which costs about $100 million per launch. Moreover, SLS’s slow and cumbersome launch pace should scare any planetary scientist away, as such missions must launch on time, and SLS might easily miss their launch windows. In fact, this has already happened. For years Congress mandated that Europa Clipper launch on SLS. When it became clear that SLS would not be available for that mission’s launch window, Congress finally relented and allowed NASA to buy the launch from a commercial company.

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17 comments

  • Jeff. Wright

    NTRs work best with hydrogen…and SLS backers pushed for Clipper. Cassini rode with solids-so that excuse is a non-starter. Starship Iooks to go to the Moon first to…and maybe Afghanistan in a few years….so that’s spoken for too. Falcon it is…with a shroud no better than those of EELVs.

  • David K

    Starship is definitely not spoken for once it reaches orbit. They are going to be making a dozen of these or more a year and will be able to launch them at least once a month each (fully reusable), so we are talking about at least 100 launches a year, which is currently more than all space launches combined when talking about tonnage.
    Yes more things will start happening in space, but the current planetary missions are going to take priority over some of spacex long term goals like colonizing Mars.

  • Jay

    Jeff,
    The NTR is one of my favorite subjects. I remember having a discussion on another forum about the fuel for an NTR which started out talking about the use of fluorine as a propellant: https://www.thespacerace.com/forum/index.php?topic=2878.45
    The fuels were factored by specific impulse (Isp) vs. storability. Yes, hydrogen has the highest Isp, but poor storability. The guy who made the table, Bob.B, went over a lot of propellants and found that methane had the next best Isp with good storability. Plus you can make methane with water and carbon dioxide.

  • Jeff Wright

    Stan Borowski doesn’t seem bothered by hydrogen storage…and he and Steve Howe are the big names. Don’t count LH2 out yet. I also have hopes for metastable hydrogen…and want M-I reborn…

  • Dean Hurt

    I am not holding my breath in hopes that the woefully inept folks at NASA will ever launch SLS or that it will ever contribute to America’s hopes for space. I do not believe they have the will or the inspiration it takes to actually get off their collective asses and produce!

  • mkent

    I am not holding my breath in hopes that the woefully inept folks at NASA will ever launch SLS…

    Bob isn’t covering it, but the SLS for Artemis I is nearly fully stacked on its mobile launcher in the VAB now. The SRBs, the core stage, the launch vehicle stage adapter (LVSA), and the upper stage are all stacked. Only the Orion stage adapter (OSA) remains.

  • Patrick Underwood

    NASA is pretending scientists will want to fly on SLS, some scientists are pretending they’ll want to fly on SLS… and EVERYONE involved knows for certain that no science mission will EVER fly on SLS.

    What a joke.

  • Edward

    Patrick Underwood wrote: “NASA is pretending scientists will want to fly on SLS, some scientists are pretending they’ll want to fly on SLS …

    The former is true, but the latter may not be. Five years ago, NASA sent out a request for ideas for science probes to launch on SLS. The response was deafening. Actually, it was non-existent, so it only seemed as though we were rendered deaf.

    The only reason that Europa Clipper was assigned to SLS was that Congress feared that there would be no science probes at all to use their new toy rocket. At the time, the only use for SLS was a proposed asteroid mission, which was not popular with anyone but the then-president. They made a law that required Europa Clipper to use SLS, because they wanted it used for something.

    As we now know, SLS is too expensive and launches too infrequently to be a desirable launch vehicle for scientists or commercial space, both of which are on tight budgets and schedules.

    SpaceX was founded with the goal of reducing the cost of access to space, something that should have happened forty years ago with the Space Shuttle. After the Space Shuttle failed to provide inexpensive and frequent access to space, NASA and its master, Congress, chose to keep this access expensive and infrequent. SpaceX is doing the opposite, and several other companies have chosen to follow in SpaceX’s commercial footsteps to find ways of reducing the price and increasing the access.

    When we let government run things, all we get is what government wants. Now that We the People are starting to run things, we are starting to get what we want.

  • Edward noted: ‘When we let government run things, all we get is what government wants. Now that We the People are starting to run things, we are starting to get what we want.”

    And an uphill fight all the way.

  • A. Nonymous

    I’m still waiting for someone, somewhere to at least put out a paper design for a space telescope with a diameter in the 8m range. By the time the design could be fully worked out, StarShip should be operational, at which point funding and construction can actually begin.

    What *can’t* you do with a 8m(l)*8m(dia) payload bay (up to 17m(l) for skinnier payloads) and a cargo mass of 100T+ to LEO (or other locations by using tanker StarShips to refuel)? In comparison, Hubble is listed at 13.2m(l)*4.2m(dia).

  • A. Nonymous: I’m not sure where your numbers come from, but Hubble’s mirror is 2.4 meters in diameter.

  • mkent

    I’m still waiting for someone, somewhere to at least put out a paper design for a space telescope with a diameter in the 8m range.

    There’s a lot more than papers being put out for space telescopes with mirrors that large. The 2020 Astrophysics Decadal Survey will decide the next large astrophysics project for NASA to build after WFIRST. They are studying four options. Two of the options are the Origins Space Telescope with either a 5.9 meter or a 9.1 meter main mirror and the Large Ultra-Violet, Optical, and Infra-Red (LUVOIR) space telescope with either an 8 meter or a 15.1 meter main mirror. The Decadal Survey report is in peer review now and will be released later this year.

    By the time the design could be fully worked out, StarShip should be operational, at which point funding and construction can actually begin.

    Of course. It’s not about science. It’s about SpaceX. It seems for some people we don’t have a space program, we have a SpaceX program.

  • Edward

    mkent wrote: “It seems for some people we don’t have a space program, we have a SpaceX program.

    It seems for some people that if we mention the capabilities of certain commercial companies we are interpreted as denying the capabilities of other companies, organizations, or governments. Why can’t we be happy that a new commercial rocket presents us with potential future NASA projects? Why would expressing happiness for future NASA projects be an indicator of denial of NASA’s space program?

    bkivey wrote: “And an uphill fight all the way.

    The uphill fight is in gaining control. Now that we have control over important parts of space exploration, those fights are over, and we are already starting to get what We the People want.

    David K wrote: “Yes more things will start happening in space, but the current planetary missions are going to take priority over some of spacex long term goals like colonizing Mars.

    These priorities may be government priorities, but commercial space will fund its own priorities. Commercial space may also need to create its own infrastructures and resources, such as its own deep space network, but commercial space is well able to raise more funds than government is willing to spend on space. Don’t take my word for it:
    ’There is far more capital available outside of NASA [for use by the commercial space marketplace] than there is inside of NASA.’ — paraphrased from an interview with NASA Administrator Bridenstine on the Ben Shapiro radio show on Monday 3 August 2020.

    As an example of how commercial companies can be superior to government projects, think of the human genome project. The government got started on decoding the human genome and thought that it would take many years. However, an entrepreneur had an idea for doing the job faster and cheaper, and he completed the project in months rather than years.

    One advantage of having commercial solutions to problems is that there are far more minds available outside of government than inside it. Another advantage is that these minds often think outside the box rather than play it safe, as government bureaucracies tend to do. Yet another advantage is that commercial solutions can find more funding as well as find less expensive solutions. Why have one government agency search for a solution when there are three hundred million other people with the potential of finding a better solution? SpaceX was founded specifically to reduce the cost of access to space, and other new companies have similar goals.

    They are going to be making a dozen [Starships] or more a year and will be able to launch them at least once a month each (fully reusable), so we are talking about at least 100 launches a year, which is currently more than all space launches combined when talking about tonnage.

    This is an example of the efficiency of commercial space. Not only are Starships reusable, where SLS launch vehicles are expendable, but Starships can be built quickly, whereas SLS vehicles take a year or more.

    I have no doubt that the early numbers of Starships will exceed their need, but with the inexpensive and potentially frequent access to space, many commercial space companies will find affordable projects to do in space. Innovative entrepreneurs will find ways to make profits in space, supplying we Earthlings with goods that we cannot have otherwise and will quickly wonder how we ever lived without. 100 Starship launches per year may not be even a decade away. Meanwhile, SLS (if it still exists in a decade) will be struggling to make one launch per year, and scientists will still find it to be too expensive for their limited budgets.

    From the Space News article:

    Asked for his estimate of SLS costs, he said “we are close to $1 billion per launch right now.” He projected that to decrease by 20 to 30% by the early 2030s as the flight rate increases.

    This $1 billion per launch does not amortize the development cost. Other commercial options don’t cost as much, and yet their lower costs incorporate the amortization of their development costs. There is a comparison of the difference in ticket prices if each airliner had to be expended after one flight, but because airplanes (and now rockets) are reusable, the cost of flight is reasonably affordable, and the frequency of flights is greater than if we scrapped each aircraft after one flight.

    This is another example of how commercial space is so much more efficient than government space. It has to be more efficient in order to have a real customer base. With the larger amount of funding that commercial space can raise and the efficient use of those funds, commercial space can accomplish much, much more than government space can, and what gets accomplished is what We the People, who own commercial space, want.

    It is a matter of priority.

  • wayne

    Elon Musk 🚀 & Akira The Don 🎵
    “If You Don’t Make Stuff, There Is No Stuff”
    June 8, 2020
    https://youtu.be/nA4Ya-yKJ0A
    3:23

  • wayne

    Pink Floyd: The Unburied Voices of Dark Side of the Moon
    https://youtu.be/CJvSzJphgT8
    1:56

  • One advantage of having commercial solutions to problems is that there are far more minds available outside of government than inside it. Another advantage is that these minds often think outside the box rather than play it safe, as government bureaucracies tend to do. Yet another advantage is that commercial solutions can find more funding as well as find less expensive solutions. Why have one government agency search for a solution when there are three hundred million other people with the potential of finding a better solution?

    Edward, this dynamic is true in almost every area of life, well beyond our expansion into space.

    A dynamic that has been suppressed for decades, as those 300 million submitted themselves to reliance upon social technocrats, as though they are omniscient and infallible.

    In fact, even our founding citizens recognized that government has a limited mission – to secure these rights – and should not be entrusted with tasks beyond that mission (of which the space program of the 1960’s was part, with its defense and foreign-policy implications).

    If we are going to get beyond a gradual (perhaps accelerating) slide into decline, we the people MUST embrace what you have written above, and act accordingly … even if it means taking on more risk in managing our own lives, and/or having to listen to the whining of the bitter-clingers who believe they can’t get through life without government direction and support.

  • Humphreyrobot

    At least NASA is not in charge of education.

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