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.

New comments by Musk on Sept 1 launchpad explosion

Unconfirmed and leaked statements made by Elon Musk at a National Reconnaissance Office presentation on October 13 suggest that the investigation is getting close to identifying the cause of the September 1 Falcon 9 launchpad explosion.

“It might have been formation of solid oxygen in the carbon over-wrap of one of the [helium] bottles in the upper stage tanks,” according to an excerpt of Musk’s remarks. “If it was liquid, it would have been squeezed out. But under pressure it could have ignited with the carbon. This is the leading theory right now, but it is subject to confirmation.”

Musk’s is also reported to have said that they found they could “…exactly replicate what happened on the launch pad if someone shoots the rocket.” He also dismissed this as a likely cause, though it has forced them to review their future launch security measures.

The article provides some very good additional analysis of the solid oxygen theory above. It suggests that though much of this technology has been used somewhat routinely in the launch industry for years, the specific environment used by SpaceX in its Falcon 9 rocket might have produced a new situation that caused the failure.


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.


  • Alex

    Solid oxygen theory! That is quite narrow to my intial idea.

  • Cotour

    I assume that if it was set off by a round that they would have very clear evidence of its impact. No?

  • Cotour: It seems you did not read my post, nor the link at the post. They have dismissed a bullet impact as a possible cause. They looked at it, found no evidence that this is what caused the explosion, and dismissed it. Obviously, there must not have been any “clear evidence of an impact”.

    They are now focused on other causes, though this investigation has caused them to reconsider their security measures for future launches.

  • Cotour

    “Not likely”, but they will have additional security anyway because they can exactly replicate what happened on the pad with a round. Sounds like they are still thinking about it.

  • Ben

    RZ….Please give a look at the YouTube channel called Tech X. They have used sound analysis to give a very convincing argument that the explosion came from the Strongback launch tower and not the Falcon 9 itself. Their basic argument is that the super cooled oxygen line that loaded the oxygen into the rockets caused oxygen in the atmosphere to liquefy and saturate the urethane insulation of the line itself. This mixture created a bomb just waiting for an ignition source. That source possibly being static build up in the atmosphere caused by numerous thunderstorms and showers in the area at the time. I’m no engineer, but Tech X has me convinced SpaceX is looking in the wrong place… Thanks.

  • Edward

    Interestingly, these statements are rumor. We do not know whether they are exact quotes, paraphrases based upon memory (possibly faulty or biased memory), or are fabricated. Trying to make sense out of them, right now, could be misleading.

    I will wait for official statements from people who are actually investigating the accident.

    I am not so impressed with the recommended video. He has general conceptual drawings rather than drawings that “Note where second-stage fuel and LOX ports would be positioned.” He asks us to note these positions without pointing to them.

    I doubt that the payload connection is a possible electric ignition source. Arcing connectors are not chosen for use in any assembly that I know of, even not in non-aerospace applications.

    The most intensely luminous point (presumably the point of ignition) seems to be at the interface between the LOX tank and the fuel tank, right where the article’s expert(s) suggests that an internal ignition could have occurred. I did not see any fill or vent ports where the flare indicated as the most intensely luminous.

    The “only separated component visible from the primary explosion” looks less like a component and more like a condensate cloud that is shaded from the bright light of the explosion. It looks like the underside of a cloud on an otherwise sunny day. It does not look like a solid piece of material, such as a separated component. It also is located on the far side of the rocket from where it supposedly originated.

    The video is guessing at a lot of parts and interfaces, such as the arrows pointing to the presumed payload electrical, second stage LOX feed line, and O2 boiloff vent interfaces.

    He states: “If this is a correct identification…” but if it is not correct, he is presenting incorrect information. Since I have doubts about his ability to identify the fundamentals, such as payload electrical, second stage LOX feed line, and O2 boiloff vent interfaces, then I have even greater doubts about his ability to identify mysterious components that suddenly show up in place of condensates from the frame before.

    For the ignition source to be a spark, we would have to conclude that either the spacecraft or the strongback were not properly grounded. Proper grounding has been known and practiced for more than half a century, so I find this to be an unlikely occurrence. I suspect that we would have heard something about that by now.

    For the ignition source to be atmospheric would be for the lightning towers to have failed in their designed duty. That people on a beach get injured by lightning is irrelevant to the Falcon 9, because those people were not protected by lightning towers, nor have I heard any indication of possible atmospheric discharge in the pad area at the time.

    Tech X is pretending more analysis ability that he has. Space News’s experts have better knowledge than Tech X does, so I prefer Space News’s experts’ more educated guesses as to what may have occurred. They may still be wrong, but at least they are credible for explaining the possibilities.

    I am not impressed with Tech X’s photoanalysis capabilities nor his ability to perform basic research as to where the payload electrical, second stage LOX feed line, and O2 boiloff vent interfaces are located.

  • wayne

    –are all these “internet-experts,” still “analyzing,” internet video?
    (in their basements, in between streaming bootleg Anime…)

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 *