Scroll down to read this post.


Please consider supporting my work here at Behind The Black by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, in any one of the following ways:


1. Zelle: This is the only internet method that charges no fees. All you have to do is use the Zelle link at your internet bank and give my name and email address (zimmerman at nasw dot org). What you donate is what I get.


2. Patreon: Go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation.

3. A Paypal Donation:

4. A Paypal subscription:

5. Donate by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman and mailed to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

The upcoming first launch of China’s space station

The Chinese Space Station

The new colonial movement: Later this month, on April 29th, China will use its Long March 5B rocket to launch the first module of its space station, dubbed Tianhe, thus beginning the assembly over the next year or so of their first space station, with ten more launches planned in that short time span.

The T-shape, 100-metric-ton CSS [Chinese Space Station] will comprise three major modules: the 18-meter-long core module, called Tianhe (“Harmony of the Heavens”), and two 14.4-meter-long experiment modules, called Wentian (“Quest for the Heavens”) and Mengtian (“Dreaming of the Heavens”), which will be permanently attached to either side of the core. As the station’s management and control center, Tianhe can accommodate three astronauts for stays of up to six months. Visiting astronauts and cargo spaceships will hook up to the core module from opposite ends. Both it and Wentian are equipped with robotic arms on the outside, and Mengtian has an airlock for the maintenance and repair of experiments mounted on the exterior of the station. Tianhe has a total of five docking ports, which means an extra module can be added for future expansion. The station is designed to operate for more than 10 years.

Much of the work on this station will be similar to the scientific research done on ISS. One additional science project linked to the station however is far more impressive:

China plans to launch a Hubble-size telescope that will operate in the same orbit a few hundred kilometers away. As a part of the CSS, the China Sky Survey Telescope (also called Xuntian) will have 300 times Hubble’s field of view and will address a wide range of science in the near-ultraviolet and optical wave bands. The observatory will investigate cosmology, the large-scale structure of matter in the universe, and galaxy and stellar science, as well as dark matter and dark energy. It is designed to dock with the space station for servicing if needed, offering an easy, fuel-efficient and “better way to engage astronauts to ensure the performance of the telescope,” Gu says.

That telescope will be the first general observatory optical telescope launched since Hubble. While western astronomers continue to build ground-based telescopes that have to peer squint-eyed through the atmosphere and also have to increasingly deal with giant satellite constellations, China has done the right thing, leaping off the Earth to do its astronomy above the atmosphere. It will still have those satellite constellations in its way, but building an orbital telescope merely paves the way for telescopes much farther out, free from any such interference.

Make no mistake. Though the Chinese are selling this station as just another space laboratory for research, its primary goal is really their first attempt to build an interplanetary space ship. It is very similar in concept to the Soviet Union’s Mir station, which from the start was conceived as exactly that, with the goal of later upgrades or follow-ons that would be able to leave Earth orbit.

China is not fooling around. They plan to use what they learn on CSS so that they can build that manned interplanetary ship, as soon as possible.


Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


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.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • V-Man

    Sort of like the /Tsien/ from Clarke’s 2010: Odyssey Two, then?

  • Lee Stevenson

    I am no communist, ( even tho I am considered such from some folks ;-) , but it has to be mentioned that with the Chinese continuity of govenence, and their liking for 5, 10, and even 25 year plans, and also given their massive uptick in economy in the last couple of decades, they are probably in the best position to lead the new “space race” right now. Capitalism is biting on their heels, but even though a free market approach will be more sustainable in the end, a government willing to throw enough funds at an end goal, and without the hinder of elections and changes of policy… I’ve said before her, the next pair of boots on the Moon, and indeed Mars , could very well be Chinese. I guess it doesn’t really matter in the end, whatever our political differences, it’s still humanity moving off the planet. I just hope that “Western” nations are involved in the mix!

  • Barry Lewis

    Read “Made Poorly in China “. Their industrial base is geared towards making built in manufactured defective products. Space Stations and interplanetary vehicles require a high level of QA/QC. The current Chinese industrial base is not up to this task.

  • mpthompson

    The current Chinese industrial base is not up to this task.

    While I generally agree with you, it would nieve to believe that the Chinese are incapable of adapting to meet the QA/QC demands required for a robust space program. As Robert says, “China is not fooling around.” If high-quality iPhones can be built in China, it is at least within their capability to build other technology to such exacting standards.

  • Jeff Wright

    Could you bi-ling uals convert the following into Mandarin?
    “Mir 2, proudly funded by Wal-Mart!”

  • Andi

    Don’t forget the potential military applications .

  • Lee Stevenson

    @Barry Lewis, that kind of thinking is what will leave the US trailing in the current space race… Underestimate China at your peril… Remember when crappy toys were made in Japan? It’s not the same world now. A lot of rubbish is still made in China, but as I’ve said elsewhere, under their communist regime, LONG term plans are uninterrupted, their space tech is undoubtedly up to scratch, and to underestimate China is not only foolish, but also their goal. As I’ve also mentioned, I would not be surprised if the next pair of boots on the moon are made in China…

  • Jeff Wright

    Agreed. They have a work ethic that is a world beater. The individual behind the Verity weld analysis system worked outdoors all day and poured over textbook all night. It’s called “want-to” and it cannot be taught except by the best coaches like Saban-who defines maturity as “doing things you don’t want to do-and not doing things you want to do.”

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.