Scroll down to read this post.


I am now in the second week of my July fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black, celebrating its 14th anniversary. Thank you to everyone that donated so generously last week. I hope week two will do as well.


Your donations and subscriptions have allowed me the freedom and ability to analyze objectively the ongoing renaissance in space, as well as the cultural changes -- for good or ill -- that are happening across America. Four years ago, just before the 2020 election I wrote that Joe Biden's mental health was suspect. Only in the past two weeks has the mainstream media decided to recognize that basic fact.


Fourteen years ago I wrote that SLS and Orion were a bad ideas, a waste of money, would be years behind schedule, and better replaced by commercial private enterprise. Even today NASA and Congress refuses to recognize this reality.


In 2020 when the world panicked over COVID I wrote that the panic was unnecessary, that the virus was apparently simply a variation of the flu, that masks were not simply pointless but if worn incorrectly were a health threat, that the lockdowns were a disaster and did nothing to stop the spread of COVID. Only in the past year have some of our so-called experts in the health field have begun to recognize these facts.


Your help allows me to do this kind of intelligent analysis. I take no advertising or sponsors, so my reporting isn't influenced by donations by established space or drug companies. Instead, I rely entirely on donations and subscriptions from my readers, which gives me the freedom to write what I think, unencumbered by outside influences.


Please consider supporting my work here at Behind the Black.


You can support me either by giving a one-time contribution or a regular subscription. There are five ways of doing so:


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.


2. Patreon: Go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation.

3. A Paypal Donation:

4. A Paypal subscription:

5. Donate by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman and mailed to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652


You can also support me by buying one of my books, as noted in the boxes interspersed throughout the webpage or shown in the menu above. And if you buy the books through the ebookit links, I get a larger cut and I get it sooner.

Research suggests a Mars mission will permanently damage a person’s kidneys

New research now suggests strongly that the exposure to cosmic rays during a three-year-long mission to Mars would cause permanent damage to a person’s kidneys.

The results indicated that both human and animal kidneys are ‘remodelled’ by the conditions in space, with specific kidney tubules responsible for fine tuning calcium and salt balance showing signs of shrinkage after less than a month in space. Researchers say the likely cause of this is microgravity rather than GCR [galactic cosmic rays], though further research is required to determine if the interaction of microgravity and GCR can accelerate or worsen these structural changes.

The primary reason that kidney stones develop during space missions had previously been assumed to be solely due to microgravity-induced bone loss that leads to a build-up of calcium in the urine. Rather, the UCL team’s findings indicated that the way the kidneys process salts is fundamentally altered by space flight and likely a primary contributor to kidney stone formation.

Perhaps the most alarming finding, at least for any astronaut considering a three-year round trip to Mars, is that the kidneys of mice exposed to radiation simulating GCR for 2.5 years experienced permanent damage and loss of function. [emphasis mine]

The study used samples “from over 40 Low Earth orbit space missions involving humans and mice, most of which were to the International Space Station, as well as 11 space simulations involving mice and rats.”

If these results are confirmed, it means that any interplanetary spaceship is going to require significant shielding. Having a safe haven they can go to during high energy solar events will not work, as cosmic rays arrive randomly at all times. This research thus tells us that we can’t simply add engines to the space station designs presently being built to send them to Mars. Instead, we need a heavy-lifte capability (such as Starship) to get the much heavier, well-shielded habitable modules into orbit.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.


The print edition can be purchased at Amazon. Or you can buy it directly from the author and get an autographed copy.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • Andrew_W

    Hopefully they’re taking into account that the lifespan of mice is only 2 – 2.5 years.

  • Mike Borgelt

    We need to find out ASAP how much artificial gravity we need to prevent the known zero g effects. Until we do, long term interplanetary mission planning is just plain silly.
    If we only need say 0.2 g things will be much easier than if we need 1 g. There has also been work done on shielding jackets for astronaut torsos and I think these have been flown.

  • pzatchok

    NASA will never accept any gravity study that does not run longer than the time its expected to reach Mars and return.

    If the round trip is three years Nasa will not accept anything less than 3 years and more than likely wants two or three studies.

    Its long past the time to make a low G station and put it in orbit around the Moon.

  • gbaikie

    “This research thus tells us that we can’t simply add engines to the space station designs presently being built to send them to Mars. Instead, we need a heavy-lifte capability (such as Starship) to get the much heavier, well-shielded habitable modules into orbit.”

    I wasn’t aware NASA was going to send space stations to Mars. But if sending space stations, why not add shielding once in orbit.
    The shielding for GCR is light weight plastic with lots hydrogen in it, or water. Well I guess the spacestation to Mars would get there in 8 months, and crew remain in it, waiting for next window to Earth, and 8 months back. As compared to send crew to Mars in 7 [or 6 months, and land on Mars surface and have a lot shielding at base on Mars, and then go back to Earth in 7 [or 6 months}- which doesn’t add up to 3 years.
    It seems the way to go to Mars is send 2 starships, which dock and spin to give mars level artificial gravity, travel Mars, and then undock the two starships. And bring lots of water, and Methane blocks GCR, pretty well also. And LOX even does it to some extent.
    You might also bring liquid Hydrogen- to make rocket fuel on Mars surface.

  • gbaikie: I should have been clearer. There are no plans by anyone to send any space stations to Mars. However, every single space station is still a prototype interplanetary spaceship. That really is the only fundamental reason for building them.

    What this research tells us is that the present modular space station design is insufficient.

  • Jeff Wright

    I would like lead lined versions of the old Mars One Crew Manual designs.

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 *