An Oasis on the Moon?

As the human race begins the in-situ human exploration of the solar system in the coming decades, one essential ingredient to that journey will be water – not only because it will suggest where alien life might reside, but also because future explorers will need it to survive and prosper.

On Mars, the hunt for water has been intense and, in recent months, extremely encouraging. The most recent discovery was announced Wednesday when European scientists released images from the Mars Express spacecraft – which has been orbiting the red planet since Dec. 25, 2003 – showing what appears to be a frozen sea buried under a layer of volcanic ash near the Martian equator.
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Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. 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, 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

Saving Hubble, Defeating Fear

Of all the items unveiled in NASA’s proposed fiscal year 2006 budget Monday, the decision to eliminate funding for a servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope was by far the most controversial.

Yet, though NASA officials now seem adamant and united in their conviction that such a mission — by either humans or robots — is too challenging to achieve, rescuing Hubble is not as complicated or difficult as they would have the public believe.
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A Promising NASA Budget?

Despite fears by many in the scientific community that President George W. Bush’s initiative to re-invigorate the American manned space program would cause deep cuts in NASA’s science budget, the administration’s proposed 2006 budget – announced with great fanfare on Monday – left almost all of the agency’s present science programs in place, while providing increased clarity and focus to its future plans.

Overall, the proposed budget asks Congress for a 2.5 percent increase. This is less than the 5 percent originally called for by Bush last year when he first put forth his new space initiative, but the increase compares quite favorably to the cuts proposed for a significant number of other government programs.
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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.
 

Turf War Heating Up

A House Science committee hearing on the future of the Hubble Space Telescope illustrates clearly how the battle for NASA money is about to reach critical mass.

The stakes are high, prompting the death of several decades-old NASA programs so that a corresponding number of new projects can see life.

The battle lines are complicated and confused, as different factions realign themselves in ways not seen since the very founding of NASA almost 50 years ago.

At the moment, this war of turf is being fought over whether to send another servicing mission — manned or unmanned — to the Hubble Space Telescope.
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The Russians are Coming

To judge the future by recent events, one might think that by 2010 U.S. tourists will be flying to orbital U.S. hotels on U.S. spacecraft, while at the same time the Bush administration initiative to return humans to the moon will be charging forward at warp speed toward a 2015 return.

Think again. The future of space in the next decade could just as easily be dominated by a resurgent Russian space industry, innovative and efficient, with the ability to provide quality service to its customers at a low cost.
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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

Cooperation’s Failure at ISS

The recent Russian decision to cease transporting U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station after 2005 highlights two harsh realities few Americans have been willing to face: the Clinton administration did not plan well in building the ISS and the new Bush space exploration initiative has compounded the problem.

Together, they put U.S. access to its own space station in serious jeopardy and threaten to damage American-Russian relations, perhaps severely.
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The Outlook for 2005

The wheels of human space exploration might turn very slowly, but all signs indicate they are beginning to turn faster and – if all goes well -finally might reach escape velocity in 2005.

Without a doubt, the future remains cloudy for a number of NASA issues. Until a new NASA administrator is chosen, for example, there is no way to predict what will happen to the Hubble Space Telescope.
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Bush 43 vs. Bush 41 in Space

January 14 will mark one year since President George W. Bush stood before a packed audience at NASA headquarters in Washington and announced, to great fanfare, a new American space initiative.

What few have noticed or recognized since then is how the response to that proposal in the past year has illustrated a complete and fundamental change in the nature of the space exploration debate.
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Scientists and Engineers at War

Public and political support is growing for President George W. Bush’s ambitious plan for space exploration, but at least one scientific organization has cast doubts about Bush’s vision — although whether those doubts carry any weight or have much validity is debatable.

On Nov. 22, less than three weeks after Bush’s convincing victory in the presidential election, the American Physical Society published an analysis of the administration’s proposal to refocus the U.S. space program away from the space shuttle and International Space Station and toward a return to the moon and further human exploration of the solar system.

The APS report was bluntly skeptical of Bush’s initiative and feared its impact on science research funding.
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O’Keefe’s Exit May Save Hubble

The timing of NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe’s sudden announcement Monday that he was resigning from the space agency to return to the academic world suggests his reasons were more complicated than he stated in public.

Moreover, despite the overall excellent job he has done, O’Keefe’s exit from NASA possibly is the best thing that could have happened for human space flight, for the Hubble Space Telescope, and for the American space program itself.
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Congress Impedes NASA Prizes

NASA is embarking on a bold new strategy to spur new private investment in spaceflight technology. If the effort succeeds, it could transform both the agency and the U.S. aerospace industry, but first there is the matter of congressional authority to overcome.

On Nov. 15, one day before the successful last flight in the now-dead X-43 project, NASA officials held a meeting at headquarters in Washington to promote a new agency-sponsored prize program inspired by the Ansari X Prize for private spaceflight.
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NASA Does New Thing the Old Way

NASA’s recent flight test of an experimental vehicle capable of hypersonic flight was an engineering triumph, but it also could turn out to be another in a long list of the agency’s bureaucratic failures.

Last Tuesday, the X-43 test program made its third and last flight — the first had failed when the Pegasus launch rocket went out of control while the second reached Mach 6.8 — using a scramjet engine to achieve a record-breaking speed of Mach 9.6. It was a breathtaking success, which — in a stark demonstration of NASA’s standard operating procedure — immediately resulted in the program’s shutdown.
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Big or Small NASA Space Vision?

The decision by Boeing and Northrup Grumman to join forces in their bid to build NASA’s next generation manned spacecraft, dubbed the crew exploration vehicle or CEV, significantly reduces the number of major aerospace players available to the agency.

This also forces NASA to make its choice from only two camps, neither of which is ideal: the oversized and experienced vs. the undersized and innovative.
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Shuttle’s Safe Return Illusory

The latest postponement of the space shuttle’s return to flight has left many wondering whether NASA’s launch window in late May 2005 is realistic. It may be, but with more risk than anticipated.

One reason is the lingering questions: Will NASA have sufficiently fixed the shuttle by then to complete a safe launch? Are the problems uncovered by the loss of Columbia solved? Are there any issues unresolved that might cause the launch date to slip further?
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