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.

Update on Starship/Superheavy preparations for orbital test flight

Starship prototype #20 being prepped
Screen capture from Labpadre live stream, available here.

Link here. In sum it appears that SpaceX is getting very close to launch, with the permit approval of the FAA increasingly becoming the biggest obstacle to progress.

Although the completion of all of this testing could take a long time, in Elon Musk’s mind, the path to returning B4 and S20 to being an integrated stack could be during this month.

A week ago, Musk tweeted that the “first orbital stack of Starship should be ready for flight in a few weeks, pending only regulatory approval.” Ultimately, once the vehicle is in its launch configuration, there will be a lengthy process of passing the aforementioned regulatory approval, with an environmental public comment period triggered ahead of launch. This has to be completed before the launch license can be granted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The screen capture above shows Starship prototype #20 sitting on the suborbital flight test pad, as workers on cherry-pickers work on its exterior. The orange, green, and white tiles are likely tile locations still needing some level of installation work.

Based on SpaceX’s normal pace of operations, the engine testing for both Starship and Superheavy will take several weeks, once both are ready for such testing. While Starship appears just about ready, Superheavy apparently needs more work. When SpaceX stacked both together on the orbital launchpad several weeks ago, it suggested both were closer to launch than they were. Their present status suggests engine testing will likely begin in September, with Starship at the beginning of the month and Superheavy at the end of the month. That would make a launch possible sometime in late October, assuming the federal government doesn’t decide to shut this entire operation down by refusing to issue a permit.


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  • Ray Van Dune

    It has seemed to me that it is impossible to build launch infrastructure and use it at the same time. But I wonder if SpaceX could have stacked a SH and an SS and fired it off before this, or at least be very close to doing so. Using cranes to substitute for the launch tower, and using temporary lines instead a new tank farm, could it have been possible?

    By choosing to build infrastructure instead of using a jury-rigged setup and firing rockets, SpaceX had made a critical decision. Their star has faded with the general public as they have been “doing nothing” that involves gigantic, loud rockets… will this make them vulnerable to being regulated to a stop, as many Bidonka-donks would love to see?!

    Or will someone in FAA-land work up the guts to call the White House and ask “Hey, would Joe like a really, really big and loud American success right now?”

  • Edward

    Ray Van Dune asked: “Using cranes to substitute for the launch tower, and using temporary lines instead a new tank farm, could it have been possible?

    It may have been possible to rig what was needed, but I’m sure that the crane(s) would have had to be sacrificed to the hot, high velocity exhaust of the booster. This also presents the danger that the cranes could collapse onto the rocket before it clears their tops.

    Either way, it is clear that the test regimen for the Starship spacecraft went faster than expected, so the booster and the spacecraft are not yet ready despite the progress of the launch tower.

    The recent fit check was important to assure the engineering staff that their booster and pad design does not require much adjustment. Had they needed adjustment, finding out earlier rather than later is desirable.

    Their star has faded with the general public as they have been “doing nothing” that involves gigantic, loud rockets…

    That implies an amazing impatience on the part of the public. Starship has performed two large rocket launches since the SLS green run. The latest was three months ago, in May. SpaceX is moving right along at a pace that makes the other rocket companies seem slow.

    A major difference is that Starship is still in the research phase, while many of the other companies are approaching first launch. For the other companies, a failure now would be disastrous, whereas for Starship failure is still expected.

    The successful landing in May informed them that they found a way to land Starship, but what they don’t yet know is whether they were lucky in avoiding traps or whether they have finally learned how to do it right. It seems that they are willing to find out this answer during recovery of orbital flights, that they are moving on to the next step as they simultaneously learn more about the previous step, making improvements as they perform orbital tests.

  • Cloudy

    “The Angry Astronaut” on YouTube has speculated that Space may actually be running out of money. If this theory is correct, they are in a race against time to get Starlink deployed and cash flow positive. He thinks they don’t get nearly enough profit from non-Starlink businesses to support the investments in Starlink and Starship. Musk’s wealth is illiquid – there is only so much Tesla stock he can sell at a time without causing the price to collapse. Perhaps he needs to get to orbit with Starship ASAP, to show progress to the outside investors he needs. It also wouldn’t hurt in defending his Artemis contract. This is a possibility I have rarely heard discussed.

    As for the regulatory difficulties, Musk is pretty good at dealing with those.

    The video can be found on Youtube, titled?

    “Is Starship in Trouble? Similarities between the latest SpaceX project and Falcon 1.”

  • Trent Castanaveras

    Cloudy said “This is a possibility I have rarely heard discussed.”

    That’s probably because no one truly believes it’s an actual current possibility.

    Starship is not a “bet the company” venture. SpaceX does funding rounds when they need backing, and people bang down their doors in a rush to contribute and be a part of it. There is no funding lack. Angry Astronaut’s video is speculation without basis in fact. He even states that right out before laying out his case. Clickbait.

    On the same hand, SpaceX just updated their FCC filings regarding putting their Starlink constellation on orbit… using Starship.

    Elon has stated repeatedly that Starlink will pay for Mars. After the “Better Than Nothing” beta test, they appear poised to push deployment as rapidly as possible, likely to rush past the danger of bankruptcy that their competitors succumbed to (OneWeb and many others), and Starship can put something like 600 of the V1 Starlink units up at a time. Being larger and mass-ier, V2 units will still be launched far more rapidly with Starship than Falcon 9. Using Starship also has the benefit of rapidly maturing their new launch system, and displaying its versatility for humans by flying and reflying many times hopefully without significant failure. They also get to develop reusability while flying paying operations.

    Starlink may be the actual weak link here (haha) financially. It is hard to peer into privately held SpaceX to absolutely confirm or deny this. Personally, I am confident they have it covered, and Gwynne Shotwell seems to agree:

  • Jeff Wright

    Wear your masks and wash your hands!
    The yellow marks are the Bezos Pox!
    Pity the cherry-picker crew popping those zits.

  • Edward

    Trent Castanaveras wrote: “Angry Astronaut’s video is speculation without basis in fact. He even states that right out before laying out his case. Clickbait.

    This is why I don’t spend my time with Angry Astronaut’s videos. I prefer the videos of people who do their research. Some of them don’t publish often, but they are accurate and good. I pay attention to them. They would already know that SpaceX has been getting Billions of dollars from outside funding and aren’t depending solely on revenue from operations to develop Starlink and Starship.

    However, I agree that they are in a race against time. Elon Musk wants a settlement on Mars that he can move into during his lifetime. This means that he needs to do things faster than NASA or Blue Origin are doing them. Those two organizations are the only ones seriously talking about settling the solar system, and they aren’t really talking about settlements.

  • Jeff Wright

    Looks like the name of the Starship will actually be Rocinante.

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