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.

SpaceX replacing two engines on Starship prototype #9

Capitalism in space: After the static fire engine tests earlier this week, SpaceX has decided to replace two of the Raptor engines in its ninth Starship prototype before moving on to its 50,000 foot test flight.

“Two of the engines need slight repairs, so will be switched out,” SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said via Twitter early this morning (Jan. 15).

Musk did not give a target launch date for SN9. But he did say, in another tweet, that it’s “probably wise” to perform another static fire with the vehicle after the engine swap is complete. So a weekend launch for SN9 seems pretty unlikely.

Makes sense, but I must admit a bit of disappointment. I was really hoping that the next flight would occur on the same day NASA attempts its first static fire test of the core stage of SLS. The contrast would have been edifying.

Personally this delay is great for me, as I will be out in the country caving this entire weekend, and would have missed it if it had occurred during the weekend. I will miss the SLS static fire test, but that will be far less interesting (unless something goes wrong).


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  • Jim

    Well, the SLS test fire, scheduled to last 8 minutes, lasted a whole 1 minute and a few seconds before shutting down when they tried to test the TVC system. They are still talking like they are going to ship it to the Cape as is. As long as they don’t have to gimbal the engines, they should be “headed for success”.
    Bunch of nuts! Maybe they will change their tune after “looking through the data”. They only said that about 50 times in the few minutes I watched it. They are calling it a “successful test” after only getting through 1/8th of the run and not being able to gimbal the engines at all.

  • MJMJ

    Hey, Jim, just put really big fins on the rocket, that’ll do the trick. Who needs gimbals?

  • Jedi_Squirrel

    So if this was an actual mission then an abort would have initiated, and loss of mission. An abort at T+1 would be fun, aborting while those 2 SRBs are running full bore. Oh, and when they do the “Plugs Out Test” make sure no one is in the capsule.

  • pzatchok

    From what i understand SpaceX is launching off of a flat pad.

    They could put a deflector under the rocket to stop the impulses from coming back up into the engines.

  • Ray Van Dune

    Can’t afford a new keyboard right now, so I’m glad I didn’t have a mouthful of beverage when the NASA spokes-lady signed off with a brave “Go, Artemis!”

    My first thought was “But not likely very far.”

  • Ray Van Dune

    As for launch thrust deflection, as long as we are talking three Raptors clustered close to the centerline, I wonder if a steel cone would do it? A V2 launch deflector on steroids.

  • Michael Schnieders

    “Wow, Dr. Bob!”(Muppet reference), you Really know how to taunt Murphy’s Law.
    Seriously, I am a bit amazed. What critical hardware associated with the main engines could have failed? I find this a bit disconcerting because the Space Shuttle Main Engines are heritage hardware with only one issue (from a gold plug?).

    P.S. I hope you share some of spelunking pictures when you get back.

  • Michael Schnieders

    My understanding regarding Starship is that one of the main design features is to be unaffected by the unprepared surfaces on Mars and the Moon. SpaceX could make their life easier by putting in a deflector shield at the test launch facility, but then they would not be prepared to compensate for debris damage where there is no manual repair capability.

  • Ray Van Dune

    Michael, that is an interesting objective, one that I had not heard stated from Musk, but which makes perfect sense.

    A key component to achieving that goal would seem to be the use of upper-body thrusters as on the Lunar Starship, which I have assumed would also be required for the Mars version.

    So I have tended to regard the current Starships as immediate precursors to a LEO / Circumlunar / P2P version, which would only have to deal with well-prepared Earth surfaces. But a simple concrete pad, only coated with the standard flame trench coating, strikes me as a bit too lightly “well-prepared”.

    Perhaps then first-generation Starships should either be operated on more traditional purpose-built launch / land surfaces, or adopt upper-hull thrusters from the beginning?

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