Genesis cover

Want to learn the inside story of the Apollo lunar landing, now celebrating its 50th anniversary? Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with 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

 

Scroll down for new updates.

The view from Opportunity in the deserts of Mars

How’d you like to visit Mars? You can. After setting out 21 months ago on a seven mile journey to Endeavour crater, the Mars Rover is now more than halfway to its destination. At present, it is traveling over an endlessly flat dune field that extends almost as far as the eye can see.

In this cropped version of the rover’s view from yesterday, you can faintly see the rim of the crater on the horizon. The full 360 degree image is even more amazing, showing a stark but truly beautiful desert. Notice also the completely lifeless nature of this terrain. There is no place on Earth, even in the Sahara, that is this lifeless.

Opportunity's view on Mars, June 25, 2010

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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.

Leaving Earth cover

In March I obtained from my former publisher the last 30 copies of the now out-of-print hardback of Leaving Earth. I quickly sold 10, and with only 20 left in stock I am raising the price. To get your own autographed copy of this rare collector's item please send a $75 check (which 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, 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

Obama administration’s new space policy

The Obama Administration announced a new space policy on Monday, downloadable here.

The policy seems big on international cooperation and studying the Earth’s climate. See this article by Tariq Makik for a nice summary.

Though the policy also proposes going to the asteroids and Mars, the take-away quote for me is this: “As established in international law, there shall be no national claims of sovereignty over outer space or any celestial bodies. The United States considers the space systems of all nations to have the rights of passage through, and conduct of operations in, space without interference. Purposeful interference with space systems, including supporting infrastruction, will be considered an infringement of a nation’s rights.”

In other words, no planetary body, no surface land, can be owned by anyone. Sounds like communism to me. It also sounds amazingly naive and childish.

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Readers!
 
For many reasons, mostly political but partly ethical, I do not use Google, Facebook, Twitter. They practice corrupt business policies, while targeting conservative websites for censoring, facts repeatedly confirmed by news stories and by my sense that Facebook has taken action to prevent my readers from recommending Behind the Black to their friends.
 
Thus, I must have your direct support to keep this webpage alive. Not only does the money pay the bills, it gives me the freedom to speak honestly about science and culture, instead of being forced to write it as others demand.

 

Please consider donating by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below.


 

Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

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If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
 
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

 

You can also support me by buying one of my books, as noted in the boxes interspersed throughout the webpage. And if you buy the books through the ebookit links, I get a larger cut and I get it sooner.

Climate Change and the Black List

On June 21, 2010, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published an article, “Expert credibility in climate change”. The paper’s stated purpose was to compare the credibility of scientists who are skeptical of human-caused global warming with those who accept it. One of the paper’s authors, James Prall, also maintains a blog where he has published the full list of skeptical scientists.

As far as I can tell, the article’s actual goal, far more ugly and insidious, was to create a blacklist of global warming skeptics, which can then be used as a sledge hammer to destroy their reputations and careers as well as make it difficult if not impossible for them to publish in scientific literature.

Very ugly and stupid. Roy Spencer, climate scientist, sums it up nicely. So does researcher Roger Pielke Jr.

Fortunately, it appears in general that the blacklist is not getting a lot of play in the press. However, here is a perfect example of how this list can and was intended to be used to smear and discredit any scientist who expressed skepticism about global warming.

It is downright disgusting that any respected news organization would give this blacklist such enthusiastic coverage.

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Hayabusa, Deep Impact, India/TMT

Japanese scientists have taken their first look inside the Hayabusa capsule. So far, they’ve detected some unidentified gas, but no particles bigger than 1 millimeter.

On Sunday, Deep Impact flies past Earth to give it a boost so that it can rendezvous with another comet on Nov 4, 2010.

India has joined the Thirty Meter Telescope Project. This is important as it shows how much India is becoming a first world nation. It also indicates that nation’s continuing passion for all things space-related. Also, the Thirty Meter Telescope (with a mirror the size of a football field!) is cool on its own.

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History’s Moment of Truth

The next five years will determine, for good or ill, the future of U.S. manned space exploration for decades to come. More significant, a confluence of forces will accelerate that process.

Several of these forces rely on the decisions of Michael Griffin, NASA’s administrator. Just as crucial will be the actions of Congress and the public, and the success or failure of several private entrepreneurs, including a former programmer who is trying to rebuild the American rocket industry single-handed.

Consider first the decisions of Griffin. He faces a serious problem trying to complete and supply the International Space Station. Because his predecessor, Sean O’Keefe, chose to rely solely on the space shuttle to ferry supplies, crew and new construction modules to the station, Griffin remains entirely dependent on the Russians, because the trio of remaining shuttles was grounded after the Columbia accident in 2003.

Worse, unless Griffin can get a shuttle replacement designed and built by 2010, he will have no way to ferry supplies or crew to ISS after that, if the shuttle is retired that year as planned.
» Read more

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A Shrinking, Timid Industry

The May 2 announcement that Boeing and Lockheed Martin are forming a joint venture to build and launch rockets for the U.S. government is another sign the established sector of the American rocket industry continues to shrink and stagnate.

This situation is especially critical because the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is looking to that industry to build its shuttle replacement. Unless other companies step forward and offer competitive services — and NASA is willing to hire them — the lack of flexibility, efficiency and innovation in the industry’s establishment base will make successful completion of the crew exploration vehicle difficult, if not impossible.

The non-competitive nature of the American aerospace industry was evident last fall when almost all of the major aerospace companies decided to team up to bid on the CEV rather than compete against each other.
» Read more

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