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 Zealand signs Artemis Accords

On May 31st New Zealand became the 11th country to sign the Artemis Accords, designed to bypass the Outer Space Treaty’s limitations on property rights in space.

The full list, according to the NASA press release, now includes Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, South Korea, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, and the United States.

China and Russia have both said they oppose the accords. That such European nations as Germany and France have not joined in suggests their governments have not yet decided what direction they wish to go. Since U.S. policy now requires partners in the Artemis program to sign the accords, one would think that Germany and France and the European Space Agency (ESA) would certainly sign.

They have not, however. Instead, ESA has been in negotiations with China on the subject of space cooperation. If it signs a deal with China it could then become very difficult for it to partner with the U.S.

We might therefore be seeing here the first signs of a true and permanent political split in the alliance between mainland Europe and the United States.

Note too that these political winds signal bad news for Orion. The spacecraft relies on the ESA’s service module for its in-space journeys. If Europe does not sign the accords and instead partners with China, the U.S. will then be faced with either abandoning Orion or finding someone else to build its service module. I suspect that with the coming of cheap, affordable, and efficient private spacecraft, Orion will then die.


Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. 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 keep this site free from advertisements and do not participate in corrupt social media companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook. 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


  • Ray Van Dune

    Off-topic: the cap sections being added to the orbital launch table legs at Boca Chica strike me as a design revision. I think someone realized that without a flame trench, the base of the launch table needed to be higher up above ground level. With the angled orientation of the legs, extending them would result in a table base that was too narrow. So the only way to raise the table, was to extend the legs absolutely vertically, resulting in an odd dog-leg design. If a SpaceX design doesn’t look right, it’s probably because it was a mistake that could not be corrected any other way!


    Ps. Bob, I apologize for the OT, but I think this is a potential design flaw that should be discussed. Would you consider making it a thread of its own?

  • Ray Van Dune: My most recent post might be a very appropriate place for the discussion. Repost your comment there.

  • mkent

    Since U.S. policy now requires partners in the Artemis program to sign the accords, one would think that Germany and France and the European Space Agency (ESA) would certainly sign.

    Germany and France, yes, but not ESA. ESA cannot sign the Artemis Accords, as the Accords are bilateral agreements between states. ESA has signed or will sign a multilateral interagency agreement similar in design to the one operating the International Space Station.

    If Europe does not sign the accords and instead partners with China, the U.S. will then be faced with either abandoning Orion or finding someone else to build its service module.

    Lockheed already has a design for a service module that is larger and more capable than the European Service Module. Europe wasn’t brought onto the Orion program because no other alternatives exist. It was a political decision.

  • Mark

    I am rooting for Brazil to sign next. Brazil last year signed a letter of intent. I also hope that Brazil can advance in smallsats. Just last week, Vaya Space announced that it will create a Brazilian subsidiary, and is now picking a location to manufacture. I wonder if any large space launch companies will launch from Brazil.

  • Jeff Wright

    Say what you will about SLS-but you can see where the money goes with a peek in the VAB, vertical weld tools, static tests and the like that I consider valid national assets should Musk falter.

    I don’t get Orion’s costs-that goes to Europe under the table?

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 *