Leaving Earth cover

In 2019 I obtained from my former publisher the last 30 copies of the now out-of-print hardback of Leaving Earth. I sold about half of these, and with only a handful left in stock I have raised the price. To get your own autographed copy of this rare collector's item please send a $75 check (includes $5 shipping) payable to Robert Zimmerman to

Behind The Black, c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

I will likely raise the price again when only ten books are left, so buy them now at this price while you still can!

Also available as an inexpensive ebook!

Leaving Earth: Space Stations, Rival Superpowers, and the Quest for Interplanetary Travel, can be purchased as an ebook everywhere for only $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit.


Winner of the 2003 Eugene M. Emme Award of the American Astronautical Society.

"Leaving Earth is one of the best and certainly the most comprehensive summary of our drive into space that I have ever read. It will be invaluable to future scholars because it will tell them how the next chapter of human history opened." -- Arthur C. Clarke

The coolant systems failure on ISS might delay next week’s Cygnus cargo mission.

The coolant systems failure on ISS might delay next week’s Cygnus cargo mission.

[T]he reduced cooling capability means there’s less of a safety margin on the station. Todd said mission managers don’t want to risk having the Cygnus come in for a hookup under such conditions. “While we’re sitting at one loop, we’re somewhat vulnerable,” he said.

The logic here escapes me. It suggests they will stop all cargo missions to ISS until the coolant problem is solved. However, what if they can’t solve it without a spacewalk? To do that spacewalk they have to deliver an upgraded spacesuit to the station to replace the suit that had water leak problems in July, and that delivery is not scheduled until late February when the next Dragon cargo launch is scheduled.

Maybe they are considering putting that replacement suit on the Cygnus capsule so it can arrive quickly. If so, that would justify delaying the Cygnus launch for a few days.

More details about the situation here.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit.


  • Pzatchok

    Do you know what a private company would do?

    They would wrap a towel around the head and neck of the astronaut and send him out to fix the problem. Until the suit starts to leak again. Then drop everything and get back inside right away.
    Obviously have a partner along for the safety and help.

    Do you know what would happen?
    The ISS would get fixed and things would go on like normal.

    But before any of this they would have sent up another suit on the very next cargo mission. Who cares if it bumps the Cheerios and milk. The astronauts will just have to do with oatmeal. And run commando without fresh shorts. They will live.
    Even if they could not send the suit back down you could just bag it up and tie it off to the outside of the station until it can be taken down.

    Good lord get over it already and find a solution.

    If there was a leak on that station you would bet your buns they would be telling them to use that suit.

    Its happened once. Once in all of history. Once. and they have had months to recreate the effect and couldn’t. In fact the suit has been working fine since then in all its tests.
    Get over it. Machines act stupid sometimes and you just deal with it as it comes up. If it keeps happening then worry about it enough to stop using the machine.

  • Edward

    NASA has lost crewmen before through a similar attitude. Problems that didn’t end in disaster before were ignored one time too many. Programs get cancelled for such happenings (e.g. Apollo and Shuttle were both cut short of their intended targets). And the public and Congressional uproar is not worth the risk, at least not while the backup (B Side) still operates properly.

    I am inclined to side with NASA on this one, rather than what a company might do. Until the space suit problem is understood, using questionable suits is tempting fate once again. What if the water does not stay in the towel, hair, or neck area and migrates to the face, nose, and mouth? That could happen before the astronaut can repressurize inside the ISS.

    The risk might be small (or might not be), but the consequences of an astronaut drowned in space are horrendous.

  • Pzatchok

    NASA decided to do it any ways with the other two suits. Using the problem suit as back up.

    At times you just have to take a risk.

    It used to be that ALL astronauts were test pilots first. Men willing to take almost any risk to finish the goal.

    The men and women up in space know the risks. Let them decide to take them or not, publicly, that way they again become heros in the young peoples eyes instead of lab techs in some far off cave taking orders from nameless voices on a radio.

    Why do you think private space is getting so much publicity and backing? Its because they are perceived as the risk takers now and thus the potential heros.

  • Edward

    All true.

    But I am still worried, very worried, that Congress or the public will make manned space exploration even more difficult, as they have before, after the first commercial space flight that results in a lost crew.


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