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

World’s largest drone unveiled for launching smallsats

Capitalism in space: Aevum, a new entrant in the race to provide low cost reusable launch services for the emerging smallsat market, has unveiled the world’s largest drone, dubbed RAVN-X, designed to take off and land at airports and then release an upper stage rocket that takes the satellite into orbit.

RAVN-X is not the first air-launched rocket catering to the “smallsat” market. Northrop Grumman’s Pegasus system has flown dozens of times since the 1990s. Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne failed in its first launch attempt earlier this year, will try again later this month with an attempt to launch 10 NASA-funded “CubeSats”—small satellites that typically weigh less than 10 kilograms each. But both Pegasus and LauncherOne use traditional, piloted jets, whereas Aevum’s driverless drone is unique, says Phil Smith, a senior analyst at Bryce Space and Technology, a consulting firm. Still, Smith says, RAVN-X is flying into a crowded market, with more than 100 small launch vehicles in development. “There’s a plethora of systems out there,” he says. “There isn’t room for more than perhaps three to five or so.”

According to the article, Aevum already has a billion dollars in launch contracts with the Space Force. They are targeting ’21 for their first orbital flight.

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.


  • Kevin R.

    That is one wicked looking drone.

  • janyuary

    Wow, with drones like that, who needs UFOs? Prediction: as with the Starlink satellites, reported UFO sightings in the general public will increase significantly. I can only wonder what stone-age folks on the planet think, looking up and seeing a single-file parade of 70+ “stars” move across the heavens?

    Kevin, yes it is lethal looking, but it is conspicuously lacking in a few well-placed bad-ass bumps. When one sees them on vehicles air, water, or ground, one warily figures the sacrifice in drag must have been worth whatever diabolical technology the bump accommodates! But that’s from a pure design psychology perspective!

  • Doubting Thomas

    Seems like a variation on Mitchell Burnside Clapp’s DARPA ALASA (Airborne Launch Assist Space Access) project that went as far as Boeing blowing up the selected boosters in ground testing then got shut down.

    I think the size of the payload that the article says Aevum is considering is smaller than ALASA was looking at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airborne_Launch_Assist_Space_Access

  • Jerry E Greenwood

    Why? Weight savings without a pilot?

  • APL

    It looks like it is just a mock-up. People are getting a little ahead of themselves. This is still vapor-tech at this point. No record of even a successful flight.

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