“This re-entry capsule now cannot be used for manned spaceflight.”

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs." --San Antonio Express-News

“This re-entry capsule now cannot be used for manned spaceflight.”

This postponement of the next two Russian manned missions to ISS looks like a serious problem. For cracks to form in a finished capsule when tested under pressure suggests significant production failures that had gone unnoticed during assembly. In fact, this problem is far more serious than the launch failure that occurred last year. The Russians have to not only find a capsule they can trust to use on the next flight, they have to track down the errors that allowed a capsule to be built that is so obviously flawed it cracked when put in use.


My July fund-raiser for Behind the Black is now over. The support from my readers was unprecedented, making this July campaign the best ever, twice over. What a marvelous way to celebrate the website's tenth anniversary!

Thank you! The number of donations in July, and continuing now at the beginning of August, is too many for me to thank you all personally. Please forgive me by accepting my thank you here, in public, on the website.

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  • Kelly Starks

    Russia’s had increasing problems even staffing, much less keeping any quality, in their space industry – especially Soyuz. Since we’re dependent on Russia for access and operation of the station (as well as critical refueling). If their space program continues to unravel – the US (really no one else in the world) has any capacity even on the drawing board capable of keeping it operating. It really could force the end of the ISS.

  • wade

    while i have to agree with Kelly, this all stinks of contrived Drama. and a dash of unsettled Labor Relations

  • Kelly Starks

    Labor relations issues on steroids. They don’t pay them dirt, so they can’t hire replacement staff. No one writes anything down for fear someone will use it to steal their job. so as the old guys quit/die, so does their knowledge base.

    Not a good way to keep operations going.

  • Bob, here’s my letter to Elon Musk. We must shorten the gap until we are no longer at the mercy of the Russians.

    Dear Mr. Musk: Your fine company alone has the ability to save ISS from possible long-term (and dangerous) un-crewed operations; nobody is as far ahead as Space X. 2011 was a catastrophic year for Russia’s space program, and their Soyuz failure almost caused the evacuation of ISS. Now 2012 is starting out with another possible threat to the survival of ISS from the cracked Soyuz capsule. Are all of their existing capsules potentially flawed?

    I am the man who asked you at your National Press Club speech if you could accelerate development to launch a manned Dragon to ISS within two years, and I urge you to do all in your power to accelerate development to meet such a goal.

    You know the market for launch services will collapse if a de-crewed ISS becomes unable to survive until American launch services are ready. Therefore, the very survival of ISS and our space program is in peril until we have American launch capabilities. Let’s shorten the gap!

    It is not your fault this responsibility ends up resting upon your shoulders; that fault lies with short-sighted US politicians and an imploding Russian space program. Like it or not, the burden rests upon your shoulders because of your success in building an excellent Falcon rocket and Dragon capsule; which as you said, would be ready now for manned launches except for the launch abort system. That is the price, perhaps, of leadership and success–you offer your shoulders! But I believe you can meet the challenge.

    Thank you very much for your success and innovation; and I hope you will accept the challenge to launch at least a test manned mission within two years.

    Art Harman, Director, Coalition to Save Manned Space Exploration.

  • wade

    still, there exists an element of injected drama consisting of a mental cock-tail that is thick of propaganda and emotion lending itself to absorb your mindset and perhaps distract your awakened thoughts from the true course of their actions.

  • Kelly Starks

    Musk is already to fond of cutting corners – I wouldn’t push him to be more reckless.

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