Leaving Earth cover

Now out of print, I obtained from my original publisher the last thirty hardback copies of Leaving Earth: Space Stations, Rival Superpowers, and the Quest for Interplanetary Travel in March. Ten of those last copies quickly sold for $50. I am therefore raising the price for these rare collectible items. The price now is $75, plus $5 shipping. To buy one, please send a $80 check, 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 before these sell out, depending on how fast the next few books sell. So, get them now before the cost goes up, and the last copies are gone!
Also available as an inexpensive ebook!

Leaving Earth: Space Stations, Rival Superpowers, and the Quest for Interplanetary Travel, is now available 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
Scroll down for today's updates.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of makng 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.

Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.


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Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

Genesis cover

Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, and includes a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs." --San Antonio Express-News

Physicist resigns for American Physical Society over climategate

Physicist resigns from the American Physical Society over climategate. Key quote:

It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist.


Asteroids of note

At today’s press conference at the 42nd meeting of the AAS Division for Planetary Sciences, the topic was asteroids, including one which holds the possibility of hitting the Earth.

  • 65 Cybele has been found to have water ice and organic molecules on its surface, the second such asteroid so found. Key quote from the abstract:

    We conclude that 65 Cybele is covered by fine anhydrous silicate grains, with a small amount of water-ice and complex organic solids. This is similar to comets where non-equilibrium phases coexist, e.g. water-ice and anhydrous silicates; thus we conclude that this is a very primitive object.

    According to Humberto Campins of the University of Central Florida, this combination of water and organics could become hospitable to life should some form of energy be added, such as an impact to the asteroid.

  • The origin of the asteroid Phaethon, cause of the Geminids meteor shower, has been traced to the Pallas family of asteroids, a family created by the debris thrown out during a crater impact on the large asteroid Pallas. Campins also noted that this proves Phaethon is an asteroid and not a comet, a question that astronomers had been debating beforehand. Read the abstract here.
  • Asteroid 1999 RQ36, which has a 1 in a 1000 chance hitting the Earth in 2182 and is also the prime target of a proposed NASA sample return mission, has now been determined to be a member of the Polana family of asteroids. This makes 1999 RQ36 a very primitive asteroid from the very beginnings of the solar system. Moreover, this suggests that the Polana family could be the “most important” source of many near Earth asteroids. The abstract can be found here.

A Tea Party in Maryland

Last night I attended the most recent meeting of the Maryland Society of Patriots, a tea party group that was founded back in 2009. Attendance was pretty typical, with about fifty people filling the meeting room of the local library in Burtonsville, Maryland. As usual, Sam Hale, the founder of the group, had garnered a range of candidates to speak to us, including Eric Wargotz, the Republican candidate for the Senator, running against Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland).

Eric Wargotz speaking at MSOP meeting

For Wargotz, the questions got a bit heated at one point, as one member of the audience wanted to know his commitment to defending the Constitution.

What makes this group significant is that the majority of its members come from very Democratic districts. Yet, not only has attendance been high at almost every meeting, the membership has including a wide range of ordinary people, most of whom have never done politicial activitism in their lives.

Eric Cary, State Senator candidate

This is Eric Cary, who is running for the Maryland State Senate. I’ve included more pictures below the fold. » Read more

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