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.


Scientists: NASA needs to catch up to SpaceX for using its Starship for future manned and unmanned missions

In a white paper [pdf] submitted to the committee presently writing the next decadal survey for NASA’s planetary science program, a large group of well-recognized planetary scientists essentially pleads with NASA to recognize the gigantic possibilities created by SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft for future manned and unmanned exploration, and rethink its management style.

The capabilities of the Starship vehicle to transport unprecedented quantities of cargo and crew to the lunar and Martian surface will require a new support structure within NASA to enable the NASA planetary science community to participate and provide payloads for these flights. SpaceX envisions an accelerated schedule for flights, but NASA’s traditional schedule for selecting and flying planetary payloads is not necessarily consistent with this timeline.

For example, SpaceX is aggressively developing Starship for initial orbital flights, after which they intend to fly uncrewed flights to the Moon and conduct initial test flights to Mars at the earliest Mars mission opportunity, potentially as soon as 2022, or failing that in the 2024 window. Since the launch window is significantly less restricted for the Moon, it is likely that the first Starship landings will be on the lunar surface. (Even in the case of a first Starship launch to Mars, during its six-month trip to the Red Planet it would be feasible to send a Starship to land on the lunar surface prior to the Mars landing).

In order to take advantage of these opportunities, a new funding program within NASA is needed to provide the opportunity for members of the community (within and outside of NASA) to fly robotic payloads on these flights. … In order to be successful given the flight schedule for SpaceX missions, this funding program must be nimble enough to select proposals for funding and make grants within just a few months after proposal submission.

In other words, NASA’s way of doing things when it comes to planetary exploration is simply too slow and cumbersome to take full advantage of Starship’s capabilities.

I found this white paper through this article at Teslarati, which focuses more on what SpaceX plans to do in its manned planetary exploration using Starship. The paper however is less about what SpaceX will do and more about the need for NASA and the planetary community that has depended on the agency for decades to undergo a paradigm shift. With Starship, missions to the Moon and Mars will no longer be very constrained in terms of weight. Nor will launch schedules be slow and far between. Rather than plan a few billion dollar NASA unmanned missions taking a decade to plan and launch, using Starship NASA could have many planetary missions launching fast and for relatively little cost, with far greater capabilities.

The scientists recognize this, and wrote their paper in an effort to make NASA’s hide-bound management recognize it as well.

What I suspect is going to happen is that the scientists will eventually bypass NASA entirely. Because of the lowered cost provided by Starship, they will find other funding sources, many private, to finance planetary missions. Those other sources will also be much more capable than NASA for reacting quickly to Starship’s fast timetable and gigantic capabilities.

Things are going to get really really exciting in the next few years.

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14 comments

  • Jeff Wright

    Musk should also reach out to them and have them stand with him for any more FAA/EPA nonsense. You want a cheap ride? Earn it. By and large, bigger rockets are cheaper per pound than smaller ones. Back when shuttle derived HLLVs were the only game in town-only Carolyn Porco was on board. She should have first dibs-not the Johnny-Come-Lately types who undermined HLLV development who wanted to raid its budgets for more bomb-disposal robots atop Delta II sounding robots. They only appreciate LV developers when someone else foots the bill.
    It serves them right for NASA to foot-drag on these ingrates who only got Clipper from SLS supporters. Where you lot when MSFC needed help? You were too busy trying to BRAC us! Ingrates!

  • George C

    How many Voyager spacecraft on a single Starship? At least 50 maybe 100. It is absurd. Should I start a gofundme to get JPL started on a generic Voyager 3 design?

  • Richard M

    This dovetails nicely with Casey Handmer’s new blog essay this week, “Science upside for Starship”:
    https://caseyhandmer.wordpress.com/2021/11/17/science-upside-for-starship/

    “While traditional rockets are typically expendable and can launch up to 5 T probes to deep space for a few hundred million dollars, Starship promises the ability to deliver ~100 T of cargo to any planetary surface in the solar system for as little as $50m including refilling tanker flights. Caveats abound, but the key features of the system are a reusable booster and orbital stage, a tanker refueling system to “reset” the upper stage in LEO or even higher orbits, and a heat shield/landing system able to burn off kinetic energy on worlds big enough to retain an atmosphere, or land propulsively on the smaller moons. Most importantly, Starship is designed to support rapid turnaround, so in principle science launches have access to a cheap, abundant launch system. With a design capacity of one million tonnes annually to LEO, there is ample capacity to support the dreams of a generation of scientists who would like to oversee a step change in our capacity to answer big questions. There is absolutely no benefit to developing missions for 2042 hamstrung by the launch constraints of 2002.”

  • MDN

    I can totally see a Larry Edward Page or Sergey Mikhaylovich Brin (founders of Google), or Larry Ellison (Oracle), or Jen-Hsun “Jensen” Huang (Nvidia), or Mark Elliot Zuckerberg (Facebook), or … Space Telescope or Mars Orbiter or Lunar Radar Survey mission…

    These folks have not just billions, but 10s of billions each, and the egos that go along with putting their names on high visibility things. So I suspect Bob is 100% on point that private financing is a viable option. Especially as these folks also understand and appreciate the nature of tactical opportunities (the low cost window to piggy back on Starship developmental flights) and the imperative of doing things in less than geologic time to do so.

  • Col Beausabre

    1) This means there’s going to be a market for a mini-sat chassis, with power source, radios, etc, and standardized connections and mounting points to which you attach the instruments of your choice (and/or design) for your specfic mission

    2) Remember that until after WW2, when it was justified as being essential for defense, almost all research was privately funded. Mount Palomar was built without a penny of government funds, and look at the accomplishments of places like Bell (AT&T) and Watson (IBM) Labs

  • Col Beausabre

    1) This means there’s going to be a market for a mini-sat chassis, with power source, radios, antennae, etc, and standardized wiring connections and mounting points to which you attach the instruments of your choice (and/or design) for your specfic mission

    2) Remember that until after WW2, when it was justified as being essential for defense, almost all research was privately funded. Mount Palomar was built without a penny of government funds, and look at the accomplishments of places like Bell (AT&T) and Watson (IBM) Labs

  • Ray Van Dune

    A sample-return component of any Starship-based mission is sort of a gimme now, isn’t it?

  • “SpaceX envisions an accelerated schedule for flights, but NASA’s traditional schedule for selecting and flying planetary payloads is not necessarily consistent with this timeline.”

    Man, that’s not shade on NASA, that’s a solar eclipse.

  • Jeff Wright

    The problem with these planetary scientists is that they are not team players.

    Unlike them, I think LV development is part of what NASA should be doing.

    They cheered for Ares/Constellation’s death hoping to raid its budgets for payloads at the moment to go on the puny expendables of the moment because they HAD NO VISION.

    Moreover, many planetary scientists from California are doubtless Bernie bros who would vote to soak Musk in taxes.
    If Elon wants to sup with them….I suggest he do so with a long spoon.

  • Mike Borgelt

    Why sample return when you can simply land an entire analysis lab complete with rovers and robots, largely built from COTS equipment?

  • Mike Borgelt: You are absolutely right. Furthermore, not sending the samples back keeps control of those samples in the hands of the explorers, not the busybodies on Earth.

  • Edward

    Mike Borgelt asked: “Why sample return when you can simply land an entire analysis lab complete with rovers and robots, largely built from COTS equipment?

    This question and others of the same type are what Robert Zubrin, Elon Musk, and others have asked, and Musk answered them with Starship and Mars colonization. He is now making these come true.

    Now that We the People are in charge of what we do in space, we are finally starting to get what we want. When we had let government be in charge, all we got was the little that government wanted.

  • Questioner

    Here is a proposal for a SSTO (Single Stage to Orbit) variant from Starship with a 35 ton payload for LEO. Enlarged propellant tanks, more powerful raptors and an additional 5 engines (11 in total). The booster is not required.

    https://twitter.com/StarshipFairing/status/1462180333332439044

  • Jeff Wright

    Sounds too good to be true…but more doable than spinlaunch.

    They need funding.

    SuperHeavy needs to be able to launch that too…for even greater capability.. I would love to see it ringed with Falcons as a Giant Saturn IB.

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