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.

Tests this weekend to pinpoint slow leak on ISS

The astronauts this weekend will shut all the hatches between different modules on ISS so that ground controllers can try to pinpoint the location of a long term slow air leak.

This leak was first spotted in September 2019, when there were “indications of a slight increase above the standard air leak rate,” NASA said in the statement. “Because of routine station operations like spacewalks and spacecraft arrivals and departures, it took time to gather enough data to characterize those measurements. That rate has slightly increased, so the teams are working a plan to isolate, identify and potentially repair the source.”

While the leak rate is higher than usual, it is still within specifications for the station and poses no immediate danger to the crew, NASA officials emphasized. Astronauts also deal with leak simulations during training for their stays on the space station, which typically are about six months long.

The weekend test will allow them to identify where the leak is located. They will then be better able to find it, and mitigate it.


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.


  • Jay

    More drilled holes? At least we can’t blame Nauka for this one.

  • Phill O

    The deep state has gone to space?

  • Steve Richter

    Could the space station be equipped with a propulsion module that could take it out of Earth orbit? Thinking it would be neat if the ISS could travel to the Moon, orbit it for a while, then return to Earth orbit.

  • Steve Richter: In a word, no. ISS was badly designed as a prototype interplanetary spaceship, even though that’s its only real purpose. It is mostly managed from mission control. It can’t do a flight to the Moon because much of its operation is controlled from the ground.

    Note that the Chinese space station is being built with this exactly in mind. No one thus should be surprised if at some point the Chinese upgrade it and use it to do a flight around the Moon.

  • mpthompson

    NASA should hold a competion for submitting creative ideas for isolating a slow leak on the ISS. Who knows, perhaps someone can come up with some creative method for determining where the leak might be.

  • pzatchok

    Its not the Biggalo module.

    That one is self sealing.

  • LocalFluff

    @Steve Richter
    No, that is impossible. The ISS can only function in low Earth orbit where it spends half of the time Earth’s shadow to cool down. Also, it is far too heavy to move out to the Moon with anything that can be launched. It’s mass is about 8-10 times that what went to the Moon during the Apollo missions.

  • Diane Wilson

    ISS does not have a propulsion unit. It used to rely on the Shuttle to boost it once in a while to maintain its orbit. I’m not sure how that’s being done now.

  • Jay

    They use the Progress re-supply spacecraft to boost the orbit. I would have to look it up, but I believe ESA’s ATV also had boost capability.

  • pzatchok

    The ISS was not designed or built with a linear thrust axis.

    Increasing its orbital speed is all that can be done with it. And even that is very risky.

    All that mass is essentially resting on each individual docking port.

  • Ryan Lawson

    Given all the little bits and pieces floating around in the station I would expect something as tiny as a sand grain could get into a seal to a main airlock and cause problems. I spent a bit of time working with vacuum chambers for research and any time I started to notice issues keeping pressure near zero I would go clean the main door seals and see an immediate improvement. But, this thing has so many linkages between modules and after so many docking bumps who knows if some of them have been kinked enough to open up a super tiny gap.

  • Michael Schnieders

    @ LocalFluff
    In regards to the first part of your statement, that is not quite accurate.
    There several times in the year where, due to the orbits inclination, the ISS will spend several days in uninterrupted sunlight. Also, even if the space station orbited at a near zero inclination, the station would spend more time in sunlight than in shadow. Due to the altitude of the orbit, as the space station passes over the Earth’s dusk/dawn terminator line the station remains in direct sunlight. the station will remain in sunlight for few more minutes before entering the Earth’s shadow, and then the same will occur as it leaves the Earth’s shadow. So, for a 90 minute orbit, with only a very few exceptions, time in sunlight far exceeds time in shadow.

  • Michael Schnieders


    it took me a few minutes, but here is a decent example…

  • LocalFluff

    @Michael Schnieders, I must correct you.
    Earth’s axis tilts 21½ degrees relative to the Sun.
    The ISS’ orbit has an inclination of 51½ degrees.
    21½ + 51½ < 90 i.e. never in polar orbit over the terminator.
    Thus, the ISS always spends half of each orbit in Earth' shadow. (The 450 km altitude over the 6,400 km radius planet of course means that it spends slightly more time in the Sun than in the shadow each orbit, but insignificantly.) I'm quite sure that it is designed to spend half its time in the shadow and that it would otherwise quickly overheat and become uninhabitable, and likely fail also mechanically and in other ways. They didn't launch and install more heat radiators than necessary.

  • Michael Schnieders

    @ LocalFluff
    from Spaceflightnow Dec. 13, 2017

    “If SpaceX is forced to delay the cargo launch again, the next chance to send the supply shipment to the space station will not come until late December. A period of constant sunlight in the space station’s orbit, known as a high solar beta angle, will prevent the outpost from receiving the Dragon cargo craft.

    “In a high solar beta, or a high solar angle regime, basically the ISS doesn’t see a sunset or a sunrise,” said Kirk Shireman, NASA’s space station program manager, in a briefing with reporters Monday. “It’s basically one long, long day, and it puts a lot of thermal constraints on the vehicle, so we try to avoid critical operations — dynamic operations — like spacewalks and vehicle dockings and undockings during this high solar beta.””

    to further example:

  • mkent

    ISS does not have a propulsion unit. It used to rely on the Shuttle to boost it once in a while to maintain its orbit. I’m not sure how that’s being done now.

    ISS does have a propulsion unit. It’s on the Service Module. It can be refueled by Progress vehicles and ATVs. Most often, however, the Progress (and formerly ATV) vehicles perform the maneuver directly to save wear and tear on the Service Module’s engines. (Note: the ATV has been retired.)

  • LocalFluff

    @Michael Schnieders
    I’d be damned, the precess the orbit so that it spends time over the terminator!
    Good to learn something new, thank you.

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 *