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.

Watch SpaceX retract one leg from used Block 5 booster

For geeks only! The video below the fold shows the new equipment that SpaceX has developed to retract the open legs of a used Block 5 booster. This video shows them attaching the booster in a secure vertical position, then attaching cables to the base of the first leg which are then used to retract it back into its launch position against the side of the booster. The design is quite clever.

The design also shows how primitive the art of reusable rockets remains. Though SpaceX has clearly succeeded in simplifying and automating this process, it remains slow and complex. In time this will get easier, but right now, this remains state of the art.

Hat tip Jim Mallamace.


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  • Jeff

    Apparently this was only a test, as the leg was lowered and all four legs removed yesterday.

  • Kirk

    Interesting. Makes you wonder if it was planned as just a test all along, or if something didn’t quite work right.

    I had wondered if any manual intervention would be necessary to ensure that the pusher (the small pneumatic strut hinged just below the large leg strut) would require any manual intervention to ensure that it made proper contact with the folding leg. I see that at 8:55 in the video a worker in a cherry picker leans in and adjusts the pusher angle slightly.

    What I couldn’t tell from the retraction video was whether they needed to do anything special to pusher (the smaller rod

  • Kirk

    Oops. Trailing partial sentence above is an editing error.

    In other SpaceX news from the NSF forum, one member is reporting that last week’s ASAP meeting revealed that “some undesirable anomalies were observed” during the first two Block 5 engine tear downs, and that SpaceX is making “a couple short term fixes” prior to the DM1 uncrewed flight test. I believe that many core watchers had expected the DM1 core, # B1051, to have left Hawthorne for McGregor by now. Perhaps those engine modifications have delayed it a bit.

  • Tom Billings

    “Though SpaceX has clearly succeeded in simplifying and automating this process, it remains slow and complex. In time this will get easier, but right now, this remains state of the art.”

    Indeed, this will be entirely disrupted, when the BFR Booster simply lands back in its cradle.

  • Kirk

    Back to the leg pusher, this Teslarati photo of the West Coast booster B1048 (from last Wednesday’s Iridium Next 7 launch) shows the stainless steel cup which the pusher bears against.

  • Edward

    I’m going to go with the “planned as just a test” option. They did not seem set up to secure the leg to the body.

    When they install the legs, it is almost certainly not in the open position but in the closed position, so this is probably new territory for them.

    My guess is that they were there to prove the concept, to test the hoisting equipment, and to verify the methods and procedures. They may also be investigating what it takes to get that pusher to seat properly in the stainless cup during retraction.

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