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.

Thrusters on Soyuz docked to ISS fire improperly

The thrusters on the Soyuz capsule to be used to return the two filmmakers and one Russian astronaut back to Earth on October 17th would not stop firing when they were supposed to during routine testing in preparation for undocking.

From the NASA announcement, which by the way buried this event in the announcement’s eighth paragraph:

At 5:02 a.m. EDT today, Russian flight controllers conducted a scheduled thruster firing test on the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft that is scheduled to return to Earth Saturday night with three crew members aboard. The thruster firing unexpectedly continued after the end of the test window, resulting in a loss of attitude control for the International Space Station at 5:13 a.m. Within 30 minutes, flight controllers regained attitude control of the space station, which is now in a stable configuration. The crew was awake at the time of the event and was not in any danger.

Flight controllers are continuing to evaluate data on the station’s brief attitude change due to the thruster firing. NASA and Roscosmos are collaborating to understand the root cause.

According to the first link, the thrusters tilted the entire station 57 degrees from its correct orientation.

Not only do they not know why the thrusters did not shut down when commanded, they do not know why they eventually stopped firing. They suspect it was because the thrusters ran out of fuel, but this is not yet confirmed.

The Russians still plan to use this Soyuz to return the film crew in two days. The story does not say whether these thrusters are needed in any way to deorbit the capsule.

That’s the second uncontrolled thruster firing from a Russian spacecraft docked to ISS in less than three months. Yet, no such thing had occurred for many decades prior to this. In fact, the last such events that I can remember occurred in the 1960s.

Why such events are suddenly occurring now with such frequency is very concerning, to put it mildly. It brings to my mind the drilled hole in an earlier Soyuz capsule, a hole that was clearly drilled in Russia when the capsule was on the ground and then covered up so it was not detected until the capsule was docked to ISS. The Russians investigated, said they solved the mystery, but have never told anyone what that solution was.

To paraphrase Shakespeare, something is very rotten in Roscosmos.


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  • Mark

    Bob’s post on the Soyuz thrusters is further confirmation of an observation made by Edward a few days ago: “This is the middle of the end of the Soviet space program. The beginning of the end came when it was nationalized (centralized) in 2013.”

    The decline of Russian Space leaves open opportunities for other countries to step up. For example I wish future success for the Modi government of India in their quest to encourage private commercial space. Or maybe Brazil could step up ( or perhaps it is true that “Brazil is the country of the future… and always will be,”).

    Does anyone on BtB have a contact in the Indian or Brazilian Governments and can get them a copy of Bob’s policy paper ‘Capitalism in Space: Private Enterprise and Competition Reshape the Global Aerospace Launch Industry’?

  • Kyle c

    This capsule is supposed to take the actress and director back in the next few days. If it’s thrusters are out of fuel what then? They stay till a new Soyuz can be sent up? Piloted by one cosmonaut? Then he stays behind, and they have to remove a crew member from the next planned one so there is an empty seat for him on the return trip? Or, now that no one will ever know since reporting on roscosmos in Russia is now illegal and will get you marked as a foreign agent, do they ask NASA to hookup a fifth seat and add a spare suit to dragon crew 3.

  • Jerry E Greenwood

    “The crew was awake at the time of the event and was not in any danger.” Understatement of the year. Oh, lets be honest and just call it a lie.

  • Dean Hurt

    The Russian space program continues to embarrass itself. “Made in Russia” is a joke. Time for SpaceX to shine!! Crew Dragon to the rescue!!!

  • Joe

    So the Russians cannot trust the SpaceX Crew Dragon because it doesn’t have enough flight heritage, but we can trust outdated poorly manufactured equipment with heritage? Methinks someone is bound to get hurt.

  • mpthompson

    The irony would be off the scale if Roscosmos had to purchase a SpaceX Dragon launch to retrieve their cosmonauts. Of course, this would never happen in reality. Roscosmos would order the crew into the capsule and they would have to white knuckle it down hoping that they weren’t lied to about everything being “perfectly fine”.

  • mike shupp

    Some see opportunity where others see mishaps.

    Sounds like a great scene to add some action for a movie set in space. Did they, by any chance, have a film crew anywhere close?

  • Jeff Wright

    Use up the fuel so the hottie can’t leave….that was the plan. “It’s cold outside…”

  • pawn

    Awesome plan. Next, buddy breathing after the oxygen generator goes south. Ok, that a stretch.

    Hey guys, help me out here.

  • Jeff Wright

    Heater goes out. Body heat time—no…you go to the Zvezda comrade! I call dibs on Unity!

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