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

TMT protests continue, block all astronomy research to Mauna Kea

The Hawaiian government continues to allow protesters against the Thirty Meter Telescope to block all access to Mauna Kea, thus also blocking researchers and maintenance crews from working on the thirteen operating telescopes already there.

Protests against construction of a giant telescope have halted work at existing observatories on the Big Island, a report said. Workers at other facilities on the dormant Mauna Kea volcano have been denied access by demonstrators opposed to the Thirty Meter Telescope, Hawaii News Now reported Sunday.

The Mauna Kea Observatories house 13 telescopes that have led to astronomical breakthroughs for more than 40 years, including the first photo of a black hole and the discovery of the first interstellar object in space.

“All we’re looking to do is to go up the road and resume what we’ve been doing for 50 years,” said scientist Doug Simons from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope. The two-week closure of the access road leading to the summit has resulted in the potential loss of a year’s worth of discoveries, said Simons.

The demonstrations have also affected the scientists’ interactions with family and community members. “They have these great bonds within their family and their friends, and now there’s a big rift there,” said Jessica Dempsey from the East Asian Observatory and the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope. [emphasis mine]

If my memory is correct, previous protests did not block access to the other telescopes. That they are now doing it suggests that the protesters feel empowered and are now going for their real goal, a complete shutdown of all astronomy on Mauna Kea. The highlighted text implies this. Native workers for the other telescopes appear have suddenly discovered that these protesters want to also destroy their jobs.

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.


  • Calvin Dodge

    Here’s an example of the Left’s take on this issue. It’s also an example of why I cancelled my subscription to Popular Science years ago.

    “Scientists are speaking out against the ‘violence’ required to build this new telescope”


  • MDN

    Time for Mr. T to figure out a way to nationalize the summit as a federal preserve using federal authority. This is a NATIONAL resource, not just a cultural resource of the native Hawaiian’s. One give I might offer to somewhat appease them would be that observatories would be covered with an aesthetic dome of some kind that would camouflage their appearance during the day (except for solar instruments). Not easy, but not that difficult or costly either I expect so something they should have (and probably did) offer already.

  • MDN: I so love your use of the word “appease.” It says so much about our dismal future.

  • Michael G. Gallagher

    You don’t have to federalize the mountain. Just have a squadron of USN F-18s sent over from Pearl Harbor and have them fly one after another over the site the primitives occupy at low altitude–at full throttle. Do this two three times a day until primitives pack up their rattles and charms and go home.

  • Shannon Rudolph

    There’s so much you folks don’t understand about this issue.
    The land, special “Crown Lands” belong to Hawaiians and it was ‘put in trust for them, the ‘state’ does not own it, they are only the trustees.

    There is much corruption involved and also, 50 years of mismanagement to the mountain… and it’s not just Hawaiians complaining, Hawai`i residents of all ethnic persuasions are joining them to protect the mountain from further degradation and the huge costs being passed on to taxpayers to finance police officers from 3 islands sitting around bored out of their minds… except when it’s time to eat the awesome meals the ‘Protectors’ have prepared for them.
    The Guv also brought in 80 National Guard… and all of this unnecessary cost is being financed by us, to act as security enforcement for a private corporation.

    The Protectors have been letting maintenance technicians and other workers go up to the summit. They said astronomers could go up too, IF one vehicle per day of Protectors could go up to pray – but the Guv would not agree to that one simple request. Astronomers were initially removed from the mountain by their own company’s fear of peaceful ‘protesters’.

    There have been as many as 5,000 Protectors at the base of the mountain in a single day & they can call many, many more, instantly, if they need to. I assure you, we aren’t going anywhere. It’s time for TMT to throw in the towel.

  • Edward

    Shannon Rudolph,
    You wrote: “They said astronomers could go up too, IF one vehicle per day of Protectors could go up to pray

    Considering that this would have been the first time “one vehicle per day of Protectors” went up the mountain to pray, we understand far more about the situation and the tactics than you think we do.

  • Cotour

    If the mountain is considered sacred, do the “protectors” also consider the island / islands of Hawaii also sacred?

    At what point do the protectors also begin to protect the island / islands in a similar manner?

    Sounds a lot like these people to me https://youtu.be/UPLQNUVmq3o

  • commodude

    If they don’t want police officers sitting around, the national guard on site, etc….

    the “protectors” could just disperse, allow the court adjudicated scientific development to continue, and cease being a barrier to progress.

    I wonder where the funding for the “protectors” comes from…..

    The more I read, the more I smell organized opposition that’s as natural as astroturf.

  • wayne

    Jocko Willink x Rudyard Kipling

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