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The Insane Engineering of the X-15

An evening pause: This history, largely forgotten, seems especially significant now that the first wholly commercial space flights are about to happen.

Hat tip Lazarus Long.


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.


  • Jeff Wright

    We took more risks as a society then. Thing is…if NASA blew up things in the fail-fast mode–and Musk was careful like ULA, but didn’t launch often-wouldn’t libertarian purists still be on Elon’s side? They’d praise how careful he was-instead of blowing up rockets right and left on the taxpayer’s dime…and they would still want the gov’t rocket dead-even if it was SLS that stuck a landing…just a little thought. Of course-back in the day…it was a Democrat who was a big anti-spending zealot…and in his memory…all space toilets should be called ‘proxmires.’

  • t-dub

    That, for me, was so much fun to watch. Informative, entertaining, well done. Its amazing to think about all the different bits of technology that had to come together to make this project possible. Including how those technologies interacted with one another. The human mind, and math, is capable of so much good. I salute these pioneers for what they accomplished.

  • Jeff Wright

    For now, there is UCF’s HyperREACT of Kareem Ahmed who thinks there could be a hypersonic combustion break through-while at…there was recent news of a thermal cloak. I wanted a Buran type Shuttle II so that the SSMEs are on the External Tank-like SLS-but large winged airframes would be on the side.

    You need large airframes to do testing right-thus my support for big stage-and-a-half SLS…hoping it can evolve back to side mount.

    But both old and new space are thinking capsules…ugh.

    Now I hear Bill Gates has a divorce. Maybe someone can talk him into being a space investor.

    The cause of Winged Spaceflight deserves better than Branson.

  • Noah Peal

    “Now I hear Bill Gates has a divorce. Maybe someone can talk him into being a space investor.” –Jeff Wright

    Anybody else concerned that the wealthiest Americans are developing “off planet” plans? Do they know something the rest of us don’t?

  • I have the movie X-15 (1961 Richard Donner). Mediocre movie, but there are some ‘names’, and lot’s of USAF footage.

  • John

    That was really good.

    We lost one of three killing pilot Michael Adams.

    I think I read somewhere that before the the space race, the thinking at the time was we would fly into space by extending the size and capabilities of vehicles like the X-15.

  • Jeff Wright

    You can blame Tom Wolfe for that. TEST GODS writes about said fighter jock culture. But it held space back. Medaris was talking Starship sized troop rockets back in the ABMA days….before the Air Farce had it killed. Medaris would have loved Musk. I wish they could have met.

    And yet…I do hope for a Buran type Orion III spaceship one day. The pull is strong. One day…

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