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.


Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:


Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If Paypal doesn'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

The Democratic Party platform’s position on space and NASA is one sentence long.

The Democratic Party platform’s [pdf] position on space and NASA is one sentence long.

President Obama has charted a new mission for NASA to lead us to a future that builds on America’s legacy of innovation and exploration.

This is even worse than the Republican Party platform, and is more inexplicable. Considering how much support the Obama administration has given to private commercial space, this was a great opportunity to sell Obama as supportive of private enterprise. Sadly, they do not, which suggests again that Obama and his party really aren’t that interested in it.

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. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • Joe

    Obama wanted to destroy the existing HSF program. At the same time he wanted to maintain a stance that would allow him to campaign in the swing state of Florida. ‘Commercial’ Space was a way to do that and at the same time pass money to his campaign contributor Musk. Should Obama win a second term, we will all get to see what his real space position is and if that happens I do not think ‘Commercial’ Space supporters will be very pleased.

  • I fail to understand why space advocates suddenly think they’re important enough to deserve more than one sentence on space policy.

    No-one cares.

  • Patrick

    But this is exactly like every Obama promise.
    Long on wind and hope and short on real facts or a real plan.
    If he keeps it short and sugary he can wing it like everything else he has ever done.
    With no specifics given he can NEVER fail.
    He and the modern Democratic party are more corrupt than the Republicans ever were. They dance to ANY tune ANY lobbyist sings. And I mean ANYONE with cash.

    It doesn’t matter if some people don’t care about America leading the world in SOMETHING.
    Some of us do care. It doesn’t cost much to keep us in the game and only a little more to keep us ahead.
    We just have to restructure the system we have now.

  • libs0n

    “Obama wanted to destroy the existing HSF program. ”

    Ending the space shuttle program was already policy prior to Obama being elected, it just occurred under his term.

    Constellation had de-evolved to spending the rest of the decade building Ares 1 and Orion. Ares 1 was a bad program and deserved cancellation. In all my exposure to your writings, you have always tiptoed around the Ares 1 and never addressed its merits or that it was indeed the program of record and would have continued had it not been cancelled.

    If something is bad, then you cancel it and move onto something that is better. The “existing HSF program” as you put it would have been just the Ares 1 during Obama’s term. Ares 1 is not something that should have been continued. It’s cancellation was justified and appropriate policy.

    Commercial crew is the best and and more affordable way to return American’s to space. You deliberately ignore that SpaceX has received only a portion of funds under it, and there are other credible systems coming online under it, and that SpaceX offers a compelling vehicle that should receive funding on its own merits, as it will probably be the first system to return Americans to space using an American human spaceflight system and for the lowest expenditure to bring online and cost to procure.

    I am a commercial space supporter. If I am displeased with Obama should he be reelected it will be if he continues phenomenally bad programs like SLS instead of a commercially based human exploration program, just like I am displeased with him now for doing that.

    What’s funny is that just a week or so ago you were lambasting us that we should not attribute bad motives to politicians for policies they pursue that we dislike, yet here you are again doing the very same and painting Obama as having a personal vendetta against human spaceflight and only pursuing policy to favorably award monies to donors, and not for the merits of the polices themselves and an honest support of them. Do you ever look at yourself in a mirror, Joe?

  • Joe

    Thanks for the link. It is a good article and predates my beginning to read your articles, so I had not seen it.

    From our past discussions we obviously disagree on the first part of your analysis, but the important thing (in the current situation) is the second part and there we are in complete agreement.

    Regardless of what Obama’s motives may be (and I would not pretend to know), what he is doing is obvious.

    The man is (by his other programs and policy positions) a believer in central state control of important (to him at least) functions, why he would suddenly become a libertarian on this one issue is grounds for skepticism.

  • Edward Wright

    Political platforms are where policies are expressed, not created.

    The Space Frontier Foundation’s demand that Romney draft a space policy before the election is foolish and childish. Any policy a candidate puts together In his spare time, between now and the election, is likely to be a bad policy. It’s much better to wait until after the election, when he will have more time and more resources to study the problem (assuming he’s elected).

    The only issues that matter before an election are those that affect the vote in a substantial manner, and space policy is not among them.

  • Kelly Starks

    space advocates often can’t comprehend that there are far bigger issues, and the public really doesn’t wake up dreaming of funding Manned Mars missions.

  • Chris L

    Some of us just assumed that he went that way because he wasn’t all that interested in the topic to begin with. Still, flexible path (in theory anyway) made sense from a political stand point as no administration is going to waste political capital trying to turn another administration’s space dreams into reality. That he was simply using it as a way to not make any choices (and thus avoid paying a political price for making a bad one) is besides the point.’

    Now the question of what he’ll really do if he gets another term is the big question. As he isn’t really interested in space exploration (beyond wanting to look “visionary”) and there aren’t any big projects doable in time for him to take credit for them, I suspect NASA will die the death of a thousand (million) cuts. American prestige doesn’t mean anything to him if it doesn’t involve him, so there is no reason to keep funding something like NASA when the money can be better spent sending it to campaign contributors in the form of government “investments”. Yeah, I’m that cynical.

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 *