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.

Rocket Lab to attempt recovery and reuse of Electron 1st stage

Capitalism in space: Faced with stiff competition from both other smallsat rocket companies as well as the big players like SpaceX, Rocket Lab has announced that they are going to try to recover the first stages of their Electron rocket for later reuse.

Their plan is to use the atmosphere and parachutes to slow the stage down as it returns to Earth, and then have a helicopter snag it and land it on a ship.

They had looked into the idea of vertically landing it, like SpaceX does with its Falcon 9, but found it would make their rocket to big and expensive.

This plan is not as radical as it sounds. The Air Force did something similar for almost a decade in the 1960s to recover film from its surveillance satellites.


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.


  • Edward

    Robert wrote: “This plan is not as radical as it sounds. The Air Force did something similar for almost a decade in the 1960s to recover film from its surveillance satellites.

    Catching things in midair is not so new. It has even been tried since the 1960s, including Genesis, which brought back a sample from space (the parachute failed, so it was not caught by the helicopter). However, the 1960s film canisters were somewhat smaller and lighter than Electron. I’m not quite sure how Rocket Lab plans to set the delicate rocket onto their boat, but I’m sure they have an idea that they want to try out.

    It could be that setting a rocket down on a rocking, rolling, rising, falling boat may look to the pilot a little bit like this: (2 minutes, helicopter landing in rough seas)

    From the article: “While the midair helicopter recovery may seem like the most crazy and difficult part, it’s not what worries Beck.

    What worries Beck is getting back through the atmosphere. He should be worried, because this is exactly the problem that made engineers believe, for the first half-century of spaceflight, that first stages were not recoverable. Rocket Lab is going to put their Electron rocket through more stresses than SpaceX does. The smaller size and mass of the rocket is what makes recovery possible. As Beck notes, there is a lot of kinetic energy to dissipate, energy that usually uses heat shields in order to protect the craft that is returning from space. Beck calls this “the wall.”

    Blue Origin also has chosen to reuse suborbital rockets, which no one had bothered to do before, and for similar reasons. So there are three companies, each with their own solutions to what had once been impossible.

    For some engineers, the impossible is only a challenge.

  • wayne

    good stuff.


    “The Last Bucket Catch”
    National Reconnaissance Center 2016

    “From 1958 to 1986, the U.S. Air Force’s 6594th Test Group and 6593rd Test Squadron operated from Hickam Air Force Base retrieving film capsules in support of the Corona program and other follow-on early imagery reconnaissance satellite programs…”

  • Andrew_W

    Edward, it’s about time someone invented a stabilized landing deck on an articulated hydraulic mounting.

  • wodun

    I suggested that in response to one of Musk’s tweets back before they had a successful landing and it was pointed out that costs a lot of money and has its own engineering challenges. The next launch they stuck the landing.

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 *