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My February birthday fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black it now over. I sincerely and with deep gratitude thank all those who donated. Without your support I could not keep doing this, not so much because of the need for income to pay the bills, but because it tells me that there are people out there who want me to do this work. For those who did not contribute during the campaign, please consider adding your vote of support to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, in any one of the following ways:


1. Zelle: This is the only internet method that charges no fees. All you have to do is use the Zelle link at your internet bank and give my name and email address (zimmerman at nasw dot org). What you donate is what I get.


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Orion successfully enters its preliminary lunar orbit

NASA’s Orion capsule today successfully completed a 2.5 minute engine burn this morning to put it in its preliminary lunar orbit around the Moon.

At the time of the burn, Orion was 328 miles above the Moon, travelling at 5,023 mph. Shortly after the burn, Orion passed 81 miles above the Moon, travelling at 5,102 mph. At the time of the lunar flyby, Orion was more than 230,000 miles from Earth.

The outbound powered flyby burn is the first of two maneuvers required to enter the distant retrograde orbit around the Moon. The spacecraft will perform the distant retrograde orbit insertion burn Friday, Nov. 25, using the European Service Module. Orion will remain in this orbit for about a week to test spacecraft systems.

NASA has been bragging that when this orbit sends Orion 40,000 miles past the Moon, it will be the farthest a man-rated spacecraft has flown from Earth since Apollo. Though true, this fact is somewhat trivial. First, SpaceX could have easily put a Dragon capsule on its first Falcon Heavy launch, instead of a Tesla, and sent that capsule into interplanetary space beyond Mars. Second, Orion is not capable of taking any astronauts farther than lunar orbit. Thus, NASA’s achievement here is somewhat overblown. Orion is not an interplanetary spaceship. It remains nothing more than an overpriced, overweight, and over-designed ascent-descent manned capsule.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


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.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • Ray Van Dune

    As I call Orion, a “Gold-plated Apollo capsule”. I hope it is actually a money-laundering project for something better. Lockheed does know how to build good stuff!

  • David Eastman

    It boggles me that NASA themselves calls this Orion “man-rated” given that it is a test article and is missing many critical life support systems.

  • pzatchok

    Why do they want to carry the Orion to the moon? Thats just a waste of everything.

    Do they plan i=on the passengers actually living in this for the one week drive to the moon and the week drive home?

    Now they have to plan, design and test an in space refueling system.
    Then a lunar space station. And then send it to the moon.
    Then send fuel.
    Then send a lunar lander.
    Then send a lunar base to live in.
    Then send more food and fuel.

    Then they get to send people.

    This is at best a ten year from now plan not counting the expected delays that will make it take twice as long.

    By then Musk will have been to the moon as a Mars test and then landing on Mars.

  • Concerned

    David Eastman wrote: “It boggles me that NASA themselves calls this Orion “man-rated”…..”
    I doubt NASA uses this terminology these days. They would call it “woman-rated”, but then they’d have to define the meaning of “woman”. It’s probably something lame like “crew-rated”. They (and many other wokesters in the media) insist on using the PC adjective “crewed”. I really like that one because it’s a beautifully ironic homonym with “crude”.

  • milt

    Actually, what pzatchok is describing is a good thing. All of the activities that he cites — in space refueling, a lunar space station and base, and ample stores of food and fuel — are the very things that will have to be put in place to enable a sustainable, productive human presence on the moon. The only question is who will build and transport such things. Hopefully, they will have labels that say “Made in the USA.”

  • Spectrum Shift

    NASA: We have improved the buggy whip! Thank us for your support, and tax dollars too!

  • Dana Peck

    And it’s full of switches, in 2022

  • George C

    So Orion, well I have a question about the minimal viable product for a ship to carry humans from earth orbit to the moon and back. Clearly not a capsule because Apollo 13 mission used the lunar excursion module when the command module and service modules had a life support failure. The LEM was very thin when it came to radiation shielding but it worked. And in fact an active multi layered thin shield with electrically charged gas layers is obviously better than a passive system. Just like battle tanks have multi layered armor with passive and active elements. Or for that matter the shielding around the earth.

  • Jeff Wright

    And Starships escape tower is where now? New Spacer bile…

  • Concerned

    Jeff Wright: Starship’s escape tower is the same place the DC-3’s escape pod is.

  • John hare

    Actually escape pods, towers, and ejection seats are a major benefit on vehicles in danger or that are unreliability dangerous. Like combat aircraft and expendable launch vehicles.

  • To be fair, airplanes do have escape slides and life rafts. Given the age and condition of some of the “seat cushion that may be used as a floatation device”s upon which I’ve sat, I have my doubts as to their utility.

    And of course they do no good whatsoever in a fiery explosion or just mid-air coming-apart-at-the-seams.

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