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 targeting 6 commercial manned flights per year

Capitalism in space: With the successfully completion of its first manned orbital private space, SpaceX officials announced yesterday that they are expecting to fly about six such commercial manned flights per year.

Benji Reed, SpaceX’s senior director for its human spaceflight program projected as many as a half a dozen flights a year. “There’s nothing really that limits our capability to launch,” he said. “It’s about having rockets and Dragons ready to go and having everything in the manifest align with our other launches.”

…“The reality is the Dragon manifest is getting busier by the moment,” Reed said, noting the planned flight in early 2022 of four passengers for customer Axiom Space that will actually fly to and stay on the ISS for a few days. “It just goes on from there. We have a number of NASA missions that we’ll do, and we also have a growing backlog of commercial astronaut missions that we’re looking forward to perform.” [emphasis mine]

The highlighted words are most intriguing, suggesting that SpaceX might have an already signed line-up of customers ready to pay the ticket price to fly on a Dragon capsule.

Meanwhile, Elon Musk announced late yesterday that he has decided to donate $50 million of his own money to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, in celebration of the completion of the Inspiration4 flight.

“This brings tears to my eyes,” wrote Inspiration4 medical officer Hayley Arceneaux, a St. Jude physicians assistant and survivor of childhood bone cancer, of Musk’s donation. “Thank you Elon Musk for this generous donation toward our $200 million dollar fundraising goal for St. Jude!!!”

Isaacman also thanked Musk and reminded the public that the fundraiser is still underway. Isaacman donated $100 million of his own money to the fundraising goal, then donated the three other seats on Inspiration4 to raise awareness for St. Jude. Arceneaux was selected by St. Jude to fill the “Hope” seat on the crew.

If you wish to make your own donation to St. Jude, you can do so here. You can donate cash directly, or you can bid to win one or more of a variety of items that were carried on the flight.

Readers!
 

Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. 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 keep this site free from advertisements and do not participate in corrupt social media companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook. 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

23 comments

  • Patrick Underwood

    Unclear whether he meant six commercial flights per year, or six total (including ISS crew flights). I’ve seen both interpretations.

    Sad this got such little press coverage but, given everything else going on, perhaps understandable.

    I thought Elon might kick in the balance and sure enough he did. Probably result in even more unhinged hatred thrown his way…

  • Doubting Thomas

    Good for Elon Musk and his donation.

    A class act for Bezos and Branson would have been for each to make a sizable (in the millions) donation to St Judes. Would show good sportsmanship.

  • Doubting Thomas: We mustn’t be too hard on Bezos in this matter. He has been quite generous in giving away his money for many non-profit causes. See for example the stories here and here.

  • Edward

    This demand for manned space missions should give Boeing and Sierra Space incentive to get their manned spacecraft operational as soon as practicable. Clearly, there have been lost opportunities for the past several decades by depending upon government for our sole access to space.

    I am inclined to agree with Robert that the real human exploration of space began last week, not in the 1960s.
    https://behindtheblack.com/behind-the-black/essays-and-commentaries/the-real-human-exploration-of-the-solar-system-began-on-september-15-2021/

    The majority of the demand for manned access to space is coming from We the People, not from our government space programs.

    What may be disturbing is that We the People formed our government to be “of the people, for the people, and by the people,” yet here we are talking of the U.S. government not as part of the people but in competition with the people. Somehow, six decades ago, our government was already thinking itself as apart from the people, doing itself what it should have been assisting We the People to do. We were clearly eager to get into space, and we were clearly eager to go to the Moon, but instead of We the People doing either one, We thought that our government would do so for us and would then continue to expand into space. Although it did this, it then virtually abandoned space, against our will.

    We continued to dream of space as being similar to what the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” showed us, but our Space Shuttle failed to provide inexpensive and frequent access to space. Government also caused commercial space from forming. Robert Truax had wanted to form a commercial space company, but the government attitude that the Space Shuttle would be the only U.S. access to space prevented investors from flocking to Truax. It was more than a quarter of a century later that the government attitude changed enough to encourage the bravest of investors to begin a commercial space industry that would be in direct competition with the government’s virtual monopoly and virtual monopsony of space.

    We are now seeing how much demand there could have been for space exploration had we only followed the free market capitalist system rather than the socialist/communist system that we had for the first half century of space exploration.

    Once again, in America, socialism has shown itself to be a complete failure.

  • Edward:

    You and I seem to see things in a similar fashion. I’ve written some words on the points you mention.

  • Blair and Edward: I am of course of like mind. It appears however I put it in writing ahead of you both (said with a smile).

  • Jeff Wright

    Truax being a pressure-fed guy had Sea Dragon much simpler than SuperHeavy…more like the very rough star hopper and then some…and Sea Dragon would be an easy build for shipyards…so it is surprising they didn’t have his back. Bill Sprague’s Liberty X-prize entry didn’t have Rutan’s winged appeal…and Interorbital is all that is left of pressure-fed religion outside of a half-hearted Scandinavian company. Truax’s son did build the Evel Spirit, which Robbie used to jump Snake River Canyon on September 16, 2016.

    Pressure-feds never caught on, sadly.

  • Somehow, six decades ago, our government was already thinking itself as apart from the people, doing itself what it should have been assisting We the People to do.

    I see that as the result of the eighty years or so before that, where not only the government, but the vast majority of the American people, were led to revere book-learned/established-credential expertise and economy-of-scale, and led to develop a mistrust of the pursuit of honest profit and an aversion to risks.

    We came to view the (seemingly) deep-pocketed, well-resourced, profit-free government full of Top Men … Top. Men. … as the embodiment of intellect and virtue – even as we criticized many of its operatives for being anything but that embodiment – and simply expected those Top Men to “handleit, handleit, handleit” as the mayor of the almost-forgotten sitcom Carter Country would say.

    In other words, we let government do FOR us, instead of WITH us, because we came to consider them Better Than Us when it comes to the ability to achieve … and government made it easier and more profitable for those who would and could innovate, to just drink from the government flow and stay inside its box.

    And for the rest of us, to just punch in, do what we’re told, and punch out every day, in blind trust that the post-WWII bubble of American economic dominance would continue forever, thanks to these Top … Men …

  • Questioner

    Jeff Wright:

    At first glance, the “simple” Sea Dragon rocket, designed by R. Truax, seems to be easier to implement than the “normal” launch vehicle technology with pumped propellants and the use of several engines for propulsion. But that is probably a misconception, because the stable function of a single, huge engine for propelling the entire Sea Dragon rocket is not a given. I would even bet that if the project had really been tackled there would have been almost insurmountable difficulties in terms of combustion instabilities, because such difficulties tend to increase with engine size (see F1 engine development problems). For this reason, the Russians have distributed the thrust generation in the RD-180 engine to four combustion chambers, with a common turbo pump.

  • Doubting_Thomas

    Robert – Re: Bezos and Branson. Well OK…But….Bezos has enough money to make a token $1M – $2M donation.

    My own thought is his strapped for cash after all those lawyers. Branson, I don’t know.

    To Jeff & Questioner – Re: Sea Dragon. Oh boy! Maybe combustion instability would have killed it but the places we could have gone with that!

  • Mike Borgelt

    I thought combustion instability was a function of chamber pressure and low pressure makes it unlikely. I’m pretty sure Bob Truax would have thought of that.

  • Edward

    Here is a tidbit I found on the topic of pressure-fed engines, and as applied to Sea Dragon:
    https://space.stackexchange.com/questions/955/why-do-pressure-fed-engines-have-combustion-instabilities

    Truax wasn’t concerned with combustion stability because the engine was going to be a pintle injector type. He believed the natural combustion stability of the pintle injector would allow enormous engines to be highly stable at a variety of pressures.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pintle_injector

    A pintle-based rocket engine can have a greater throttling range than one based on regular injectors, and will very rarely present acoustic combustion instabilities, because a pintle injector tends to create a self-stabilizing flow pattern.

    Robert Zimmerman,
    You wrote: “It appears however I put it in writing ahead of you both (said with a smile).

    You did, and it is an excellent point. I wanted to make the point on this thread that, although the success of Apollo makes it look like a top-down government-run project can succeed, in the long run this system does not succeed. It results in an adversarial relationship between the government and the governed, but usually the government has already won.

    Jester Naybor wrote: “In other words, we let government do FOR us, instead of WITH us, because we came to consider them Better Than Us when it comes to the ability to achieve … and government made it easier and more profitable for those who would and could innovate, to just drink from the government flow and stay inside its box.

    It isn’t necessarily achievement that people consider government to be good at doing, but it is problem solving, which can look like achievement.

    Too many people see government as problem solvers. This comes from the ability to petition government for redress of grievances. Government redresses their grievances, therefore government is their problem solver. We should be able to ask for such redress, because it is government itself that causes many of our problems, especially when government solves a problem that we have with another citizen — that is when government is most likely to reduce that other citizen’s freedoms and rights. How terrible it is to sic an all-powerful government onto somebody else.

    Not only do governments tend to create at least as many problems as they solve but they often botch the solution to which they were tasked. For instance, after many tax increases on the rich, there are still calls to tax them, despite the fact that in the U.S. the top 1% of earners pay 40% of income taxes and the bottom 50% pay -3%. Yes, that is a negative, because the U.S. gives certain tax credits that are paid even when no tax is owed. So, if the top 1% are not seen as paying their fair share then how can the bottom 50% be paying their fair share?

    If the bottom 50% pay no taxes, then what keeps them from electing people to office who will just spend and spend and spend until the government becomes insolvent? [*** SARCASM ALERT ***] Fortunately, this could never happen in the U.S., as our government always balances its budgets and keep spending within its tax income. Our bottom 50% are too well educated in The American Way to ever depend upon the largess of government to the detriment of all.

    A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.” ― Alexander Fraser Tytler

    Fortunately, we are a republic, not a democracy, and FDR and LBJ did not start up welfare systems that plague our treasury today.

    [*** END SARCASM ***]

  • Questioner

    Mike Borgelt:

    Combustion instabilities (there are several types) are one of the most complex scientific problems in rocket science. I’m not saying that I went deeply into the area, but I do have some basic ideas about it. A high combustion pressure can act on instabilities in both directions: on the one hand, it increases the energy content per volume and also the heat transfer rate, which helps to transfer energy into the acoustic resonance modes of the combustion chamber and, on the other hand, it reduces the combustion time and lag, which counteracts instabilities. The F1 engine (unstable first design) had a relatively moderate combustion pressure of around 70 bars.

    The instabilities I mean are primarily related to the injector design and its propellant atomization and vaporizing performance. Here in this video at approximately 4:00 minutes it is indicated that there were concerns about possible combustion instabilities for the Sea Dragon missile at the time of its conception.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Aco5ckCni4

  • Questioner

    Mike Borgelt:

    It would be very interesting to know what Bob Truax would say about the Starship design. Both Truax and Musk prefer very large rockets for low cost and achieving reusability.

    However, Truax selected a “low-tech” approach, while Musk took a “high-tech” design. Both designs have about same ratio of payload to launch mass for low earth orbit (Sea Dragon: 450 to 680 tons of payload versus 18,140 tons of lift-off mass; Starship: 100 to 150 tons versus 5,000 tons of lift-off mass). Is there a “low-tech” design of Starship possible?

  • sippin_bourbon

    Here is a question:

    Jared Isaacson paid for the Inspiration 4 trip outright. Then the rest of the crew was chosen.
    From a nautical or maritime point of view, is this the first fully chartered voyage?

    Previous “space tourists” or “space passengers” bought a seat, and hitched a ride that way.
    In this case, however, the whole thing, all four seats, the launch, the landing, all of it except for the ownership of the vessel, was bought and paid for, just like a charter.

  • sippin_bourbon: Yes, this is the first chartered spaceflight. In fact, I wish I had thought of this earlier, and used that term in describing it.

  • Questioner

    An important question for everyone: Would it not have been better for America’s future if Mr. Jared Isaacman did not spend the 200 million dollars to the space flight mission with SpaceX, but to finance the fight against the left, i.e. the cultural Marxists (including all radical groups like Antifa), who are on the way to take power in the West? For example, he could have used the money to pay for actions that reveal the election fraud against President Trump. Compared to these important goals, promoting manned spaceflight is almost irrelevant, isn’t it?

  • sippin_bourbon

    Questioner

    I disagree completely.

    And the answer is the same as the answer to the question “Should we be spending money on space when we have so many other problems right here on Earth”.

    The answer is that there will always be a [fill in the blank] problem here on Earth.
    Choose whatever you like. Poverty, homelessness, hunger, corrupt politicians, mental illness (did I repeat myself?) and so on.

    Look at every empire and nation that exists or has existed. Some are better than others, but the fact is these problems are to some degree part of the human condition. As long as some people are greedy for money or power, or lazy, or truly mentally sick, these social ills will continue.

    If we wait for money to be the magical cure, then we will never get anywhere. Ever.

  • sippin_bourbon

    Thank you, Mr Z.

    It seems to me that this is the correct language to use.

    I know that Space law is often compared to Maritime law (which is not strictly true), but the language seems interchangeable for this purpose.

  • Questioner

    sippin_bourbon:

    I can say that I’m pretty knowledgeable about space travel, both technology and its history. I’ve been dealing with it since 1975. Nevertheless, I am very skeptical about the usefulness of manned space travel (only manned type).

    So it is actually incomprehensible why Elon Musk wants to colonize Mars and why he does not devote his great energy to the deserts of the earth (or the arctic zones) and make them usable for mankind. The benefit for us would be much, much greater than using its power for an impossible goal like trying to animate the extremely live unfriendly Mars.

    By the way, I’ve never heard Elon Musk advocate real nature conservation, such as the conservation of species (like orangutans or chimpanzees). He reminds me of the political party of the Greens, who only painted themselves green to pursue other goals. In the case of the Greens, it is political power to enforce their cultural Marxist ideology. What ideology does Elon Musk have. Is he a leftist too, not sure?

  • sippin_bourbon

    Questioner

    Both manned and unmanned space exploration has resulted in new technology and a greater understanding of the universe we live in.
    I would say the trade off is worth it.

    Jealous of Elon Musk? It is his money to do with as he sees fit. Period.

    Impossible goals. There were a lot of things that were impossible 100 years ago, or 500 years ago.
    Terraforming as a concept does seem impossible with today’s tech. 500 years from now?
    Elon does not seem to want to wait that long to at least get there. And I agree. Why wait.
    If someone does not start developing the tech, who will?
    It is not incomprehensible to want to develop and build something new. He will own the patents on every new invention on the way, and make a lot more money.

    As as for your comment about nature conservation, see my original answer, and plug that into the blank space.

    If we (humanity) shoot for Mars, and fall short and only get an established lunar colony out of it, I call it a win.

  • Edward

    Questioner,
    You wrote: “It is actually incomprehensible why Elon Musk wants to colonize Mars and why he does not devote his great energy to the deserts of the earth (or the arctic zones) and make them usable for mankind. The benefit for us would be much, much greater than using its power for an impossible goal like trying to animate the extremely live unfriendly Mars.

    By the way, I’ve never heard Elon Musk advocate real nature conservation, such as the conservation of species (like orangutans or chimpanzees). He reminds me of the political party of the Greens, who only painted themselves green to pursue other goals. In the case of the Greens, it is political power to enforce their cultural Marxist ideology. What ideology does Elon Musk have. Is he a leftist too, not sure?

    This is just another version that is applicable to sippin_bourbon’s previous answer. It is merely another [fill in the blank] problem here on Earth, with the addition that Musk has not expressed concern for every problem here on Earth. We have all kinds of problems here on Earth, yet we spend trillions of dollars on entertainment and trillions more on recreation, neither of which have even a small potential for solving our earthly problems. Perhaps we should end those types of expenditures, too, and send the money instead to the poor in order to pay them to not work.

    What is to say that commercial exploration and expansion into space won’t help reduce many of the problems that we have here on Earth? With the wimpy government use of space we had several solutions, including advanced weather forecasting and the ability to better prepare for hurricanes. Communications has also greatly improved. Commercial companies have far greater incentive to find solutions to earthly problems in order to sell their solutions (goods and services) for a profit — the profit being the reward for finding these solutions and for finding better efficiencies when providing them.

    What makes you think that the deserts of the Earth and the arctic zones are not already being used by mankind? We have entire cities, such as Tucson Arizona, located in Earth’s deserts and cities in the arctic, such as Murmansk (pop, more than a quarter million people). What makes you think that Musk’s goal is to animate Mars rather than use its resources, as we already do with Earth’s deserts and arctic zones?

    I can say that I’m pretty knowledgeable about space travel, both technology and its history. I’ve been dealing with it since 1975. Nevertheless, I am very skeptical about the usefulness of manned space travel (only manned type).

    Concern for the environment increased dramatically due to photographs that men took of the Earth, because being on location allowed them to realize the importance of such photographs.

    The major reason that we explore Mars and especially the Moon is because we intend to put men on them. Unmanned probes to the Moon were sent specifically to find ways and places to send men. After Apollo, the Moon was largely ignored — until the proposal to put men back on it. We explore Mars because we expect to put men there, someday. Otherwise Mars would be about as interesting as Venus, which gets very few probes. Unmanned probes have limited use if mankind does not intend to follow them.

    Why should man go into space? For the same reasons that we explored the seas and colonized new lands. What if, millennia ago, no one had moved into the Americas, sailed to Australia or sailed to the various Pacific islands? What if no one had sailed across the Atlantic? Exploration and expansion is what we do, and we do it well. We created many solutions to man’s problems by colonizing the North American continent. All mankind is far better off because we did.

    Why should man go into space? Because great adventures are man’s domain.

    Why should man go into space? Freedom. We the People are free to do so at our own expense. If it doesn’t work out then at least we tried, and we are free to try again.

  • Questioner wrote:

    “So it is actually incomprehensible why Elon Musk wants to colonize Mars and why he does not devote his great energy to the deserts of the earth (or the arctic zones) and make them usable for mankind. The benefit for us would be much, much greater than using its power for an impossible goal like trying to animate the extremely live unfriendly Mars.”

    Because, one day, a big rock will come out of the sky, and that, will be, that.

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 *