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.

Putin reduces budget for Roscosmos by 16%

The Putin government has significantly cut the budget for Roscosmos, reducing it by 16% for each of the next three years.

For 2022, the state budget for space activities will be set at 210 billion rubles ($2.9 billion), a cut of 40.3 billion rubles ($557 million) from the previous year. Similar cuts will follow in subsequent years. The most significant decreases will be in areas such as “manufacturing-technological activities” and “cosmodrome development.” Funding for “scientific research and development” was zeroed out entirely.

The publications say Russian President Vladimir Putin is unhappy with the performance of Russia’s space program. At a space industry meeting on September 29, they report, Putin criticized the industry’s failure to fulfill directives on long-term goals in the space sphere. In 2020, for example, Roscosmos failed to hit 30 of the 83 stated goals of the national space program.

Putin’s dissatisfaction is quite justified. Since his government consolidated all of Russia’s aerospace industry into a single corporation run by Roscosmos, the space agency has made many promises but achieved little. It is clear that he hopes these cuts will force it to get its act together.

The problem is that Putin has done nothing to change the root cause that has fueled this failure, the government aerospace monopoly that Putin himself created. Without competition and a willingness to allow new Russian aerospace companies to succeed — in direct competition with Roscosmos — there is little chance of reform. Roscosmos will struggle on, and it might even begin to show a bit of success, but in the end its best prospect is to become one of many competitors in the new commercial space market. And its market share will be small, because the competitive private companies in the west will easily beat it in cost and innovation.


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  • Ray Van Dune

    It just occurred to me that Roscosmos (and all the other companies with boosters in service) have an expense that SpaceX does not… manufacturing a booster for every mission, because they are not reusable. Meanwhile SpaceX can just reuse them as required, thus spending more of their revenue developing new rockets instead of churning out obsolete ones! Pretty clever, huh?

  • V-Man

    You’d think after what, 1700 or so copies of the same rocket, that they would have a fully automated production line churning them out like bullets… But I wouldn’t be surprised if they are still turning them out by hand.

  • Patrick Underwood

    The Old Ways Are Best. :)

  • Questioner


    Here are some impressions from the production of the Russian R7 rocket. I’m sorry, is in French.

  • V-Man

    Questioner: thank you for the link. Don’t worry, I’m fluent in French. :)

    As I figured, everything is practically hand-made — and thus, expensive. But with no local competition, there is no incentive to bring in robots or other methods of streamlining production.

  • Jeff Wright

    The Rolls Royce of LVs.

    I actually like that. Cutting space budgets means they still have to make them by hand. Putin needs some of his own poison soup over this stunt.
    Poor Rogozin…

  • Gary H

    Actually, The Russians are 3-D printing all future boosters and thus greatly reducing the cost. They only have one technical challenge left, making boosters taller than three meters.

  • Ray Van Dune

    Once you realize you should not be building rockets, but building and maintaining a rocket fleet, you realize that you should be building rocket engines the same way. Build a fleet and sustain it, while you design and build the next fleet of rockets / engines. Tough to catch.

    Did you see that slew of Raptors in the Everyday Astronaut video? They are already obsolete.

  • Jerry E Greenwood

    The Russians cut funding from government enterprises that fail to meet their goals while we increase funding for the same reason.


  • Shallow Minded Reader

    They’ve got millions of Russian serfs to employ.

  • Mark

    Sorry Mr. Z, but Russia and Putin could care less about ‘Capitalism in Space’.
    In my opinion it’s better to treat Russia as a country with very serious political leaders who lead a country with a very different economic structure, and a very different mindset and set of strategic goals. Many Russia experts believe that Russia’s economy is heavily influenced by a small circle of powerful oligarchs. These wealthy insiders own or manage many important Russian firms. Putin doesn’t control the oligarchy, but his power is tied to their power, and often Putin has to mediate their competing interests.
    Given the above, for the foreseeable future, Russian leaders would flat out not consider changing Roscosmos from a government aerospace monopoly towards an entity that was just one of many competitive firms.
    Russia has gone through various phases of post-Soviet transformation. Putin and Russians in general have contempt for Yeltsin’s 1990s collapse. Putin benefited greatly from the oil-driven early 2000s boom. Then there was the economic stagnations from 2013, after the oil-model was exhausted, where Putin’s Decrees and the 12 national projects were an attempt to create a new economic model driven by supply-side investment. The sector of the economy that is the economic and foreign policy backbone of the Putin regime is the Oil & Gas sector. And the company that Putin cares about the most about is Rosneft which is the Russian state-owned oil company.
    Post COVID we are seeing Putin once again derive great benefit from Russian Oil & Gas which increases state revenues, and can be used by Russia as a carrot and stick to drive its foreign policy goals with Europe and Ukraine.
    So I would contrast the Russian Oil & Gas giant Rosneft to Roscosmos, and do it from Putin’s perspective. It’s easy to see which one is more important to the Russian state, and which one you would invest in, and which one you would cut 16% from its budget.

  • wayne

    Star Trek Original
    “A Piece of the Action”
    We Ain’t Playin’ For Peanuts

  • Mark

    With that reference to a Star Trek episode, Wayne once again proves he is the G.O.A.T of popular culture references.
    But I’ll say again – Sorry Mr. Z, but Russia and Putin could care less about ‘Capitalism in Space’.
    Considering how our media has so thoroughly dumbed down the public when it comes to any situation involving the country of Russia, it’s probably useless to even try to have an informed public discussion about the internal dynamics or geopolitical relevance of Russia. Our revolting media not too long ago lauded Obama’s ‘Zinger’ in that 2012 Presidential debate with Romney – “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”.
    Russia studies us, but for the most part we do not study them, and glib references are trumpeted.
    Which side do you think has the advantage?

  • Questioner

    Markusic: Firefly’s Alpha rocket uses Soviet heritage technology for its first stage engines (introduced by Firefly’s Ukrainian partners).

    Tour Firefly Aerospace’s Factory and Test Site With Their CEO, Tom Markusic

  • Edward

    This is the middle of the end of the Soviet space program. The beginning of the end came when it was nationalized (centralized) in 2013.

    Putin’s problem is that he failed to change the corporate culture within that program. He failed to make quality job one. He failed to make anyone happy to work there. He failed to provide or allow a vision for a glorious future. Instead, there were ideas for the future that have devolved (anti-evolved, descended) into dreams for the future.

    As the U.S. space program becomes more decentralized, the visions that this century’s companies have are similar to the dreams of the 1950s, which became the ideas of the 1960s. The 1960s also saw a lot of ideas being developed and tested. Unfortunately, during the 1970s and 1980s the centralized U.S. space program also failed to provide or allow a vision for a glorious future. If it didn’t fit in with the government’s budget, it wasn’t going to happen, and the ideas of the 1960s were abandoned. Testing new ideas became rarer and rarer. Even the ISS has very limited allotment for scientific exploration.

    Today’s visions come from our more independent companies, Axiom, Blue Origin, SpaceX, and ULA, and many of them are actively working to achieve those visions. Five years ago, ULA had a vision called Cislunar 1000, where it expected 1000 people to be working in space 25 years from now (2045), but its plans for accomplishing that vision have largely been abandoned, possibly because ULA continues to imagine its primary customer to be the U.S, government. Axiom wants to build independent space stations, but will first depend upon the ISS as a platform for its first set of modules — an independent station seems to be at least five years away. Blue Origin saw itself putting people back on the Moon (the next man and the first woman), but SpaceX got that contract, so Blue Origin will have to go to the Moon on its own. SpaceX visualizes a colony on Mars with a million people in half a century, and so far their only roadblock is the incredulity of many people who won’t even have to put up any tax money to accomplish that goal (they seem to think that if government won’t do it then nobody can).

    No wonder SpaceX can hire the best of the best of the best.

    Russia’s dream? Disconnect failing modules from ISS and call it their own space station.

    How will we know the Soviet space program has come to the end of the end? It will look more like the Japanese space program.

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