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On February 5, 2023 I will celebrate my 70th birthday. Yay! As I do every year during this birthday month, I run a campaign to raise money to support my work here at Behind The Black. I do not run ads. My only support comes from my readers, which leaves me utterly free to speak my mind openly about space, culture, and politics. Please consider supporting me in this work 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. Donate through Gabpay, using my email address zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

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

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5. Donate by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman and mailed to
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Valeri Polykov, holder of the record’s longest stay in space, passes away

Valeri Polykov
Valeri Polykov

Russian astronaut Valeri Polykov, who holds the record for the longest spaceflight yet of any human in history, has passed away at the age of 80.

In 1994 and 1995 Polykov spent 437 days on Russia’s space station Mir, the equivalent of fourteen months and two weeks. His thoughts at launch, as he told me personally when I interviewed him while writing Leaving Earth, were not so confident:

“What if something goes wrong?” [he explained]. “I had sacrificed so much time. The government has spent so much, more than they can afford. And I’ve learned so much for them myself, for them.

“Better I die if something went wrong,” he thought. “Better if I had a gun to shoot myself.”

Nothing went wrong however. Polykov, a doctor, had pushed for this long mission to find out if it would be possible for a person to function after a year-plus of weightlessness upon arrival on Mars. Originally planned to last 18 months, circumstances eventually shortened it to 14 months-plus. When Polykov came home in March 1995, he managed to walk a few steps on his own, shortly after being removed from the capsule. To his mind, he had proved that a person could function on their own on Mars after such a long flight.

Others disagreed. As I wrote in Leaving Earth, though he was almost normal within a week of landing,

Polykov had come back to Earth very weak. For at least those first few hours, he needed help from those around him. Any spacefarer arriving on Mars after a year in space must be prepared to face that same challenge.

Regardless, Polykov, like Brian Binnie, was one of the early giants in space exploration. His contribution must not be forgotten.

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.

One comment

  • Norbert Giesinger

    From the german Wikipedia:
    Waleri Wladimirowitsch Poljakow

    Валерий Владимирович Поляков, scientific transliteration Valerij Vladimirovič Poljakov;
    * 27. April 1942 in Tula, Oblast Tula, Russische SFSR; † on or before 19. September 2022
    Long missions Mir LD-2 and Mir LD-4 , total 678 days, 16 hours and 32 minutes in space.
    Flight with Sojus TM-18 to Mir and return after 437 days, 17 hours and 58 minutes with Sojus TM-20.
    Mission from January 8th 1994 to march 22nd 1995

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