Tag Archives: publicity

Off to the Grand Canyon

I am off to the Grand Canyon again for a caving expedition. We drive up and hike in today, and hike out and drive home on Monday.

I am not bringing a laptop this time to post on the drives. Posting, except for evening pauses, will thus have to wait until I return.

There is one scheduled launch this weekend, the late lift-off tonight of BebiColumbo, a joint European-Japanese mission to Mercury, by a Ariane 5 rocket. I will catch up on this, and other news, once I return.

Share

Another Zimmerman op-ed: Congress Needs To Stop Pouring Money Into NASA’s Contractor Black Hole

The Federalist yesterday published an op-ed by myself, focused entirely on the disaster that is big government space, both here and in Russia: Congress Needs To Stop Pouring Money Into NASA’s Contractor Black Hole. Key section, beginning with my description of SLS:

That’s approximately $40 billion over 20 years to launch a single manned mission, in an Apollo-style capsule on a Saturn-type rocket, reusing (supposedly to save money) already built shuttle engines and upgraded shuttle solid rocket boosters. I repeat: It will take NASA more than 20 years and $40 billion to fly one manned mission on SLS. And that’s not including the almost $18 billion NASA will spend to build the Orion capsule that will fly on that mission. Does no one in Congress and in the Trump administration see anything wrong here?

The story gets worse. In September, NASA released what it has dubbed its “National Space Exploration Campaign Report,” a 21-page document outlining the agency’s plans for deep space exploration through 2030, using SLS and Orion as well as a new NASA boondoggle to be built in lunar orbit, dubbed the Gateway. To label this road map a joke would be an insult to comedians everywhere. It lays out deadlines and budgets that are so vague and ambiguous that the project could take a half century, cost a trillion, and still have never launched.
Lawmakers Need to Wise Up to This Black Hole

The worse part of this sad story is that it appears Congress and the Trump administration are buying into it, pushed partly by heavy lobbying by the big space companies — Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman — that hope to get the contracts to build it. It must be understood, however, that the companies advocating Gateway and all future big space projects using SLS and Orion don’t really care if anything ever actually gets built. Like SLS and Orion, what they really want is endless appropriations and cost-plus contracts that will funnel money to them endlessly, even as the launch dates of their projects recede forever into the future.

Nor are Congress and the bureaucracies in NASA and the executive branch interested in accomplishing anything. All Congress wants is to be able to claim they brought jobs to their districts and states, even if those jobs never accomplish anything at all and waste the taxpayers’ money. The bureaucrats merely want to perpetuate their jobs, building empires in fancy Washington offices while attending lots of conferences on the taxpayers’s dime.

None of them care about the national interest. Their goal is to line their pockets, regardless of the harm it does the United States. This must change. If Trump truly wants to empty the swamp, he has to stop funding such boondoggles. This does not mean that Americans should cede the future exploration of space to China and others, but we can clearly do this in a better and smarter way.

Read it all.

Share

Audiobook of Genesis: the story of Apollo 8 now available

I am pleased to announce the release of the audiobook edition of Genesis: the story of Apollo 8. From the official press release:

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of one of mankind’s boldest adventures, the first manned flight to another world. To mark the occasion, an audio version of the first book about the mission of Apollo 8 has been released, narrated by Grover Gardner, a legend in the ears of fans of audiobooks all over the planet.

Says Valerie Anders, wife of Apollo 8 crew member Bill Anders, “When I first read this excellent account, published before the end of the space shuttle era, I was delighted.”

Now, with the advent of high quality audio books and online merchants like iTunes and Audible, and the resonant and expressive voice of narrator Grover Garner, everyone can enjoy this recording of this pivotal moment in space history.

While more recent books have been published on the mission of Apollo 8 (most of which rely heavily on Zimmerman’s work), none has captured the impact the Apollo program had on the families of the astronauts nearly so well as “Genesis – the story of Apollo 8.” The new forward to “Genesis,” by Valerie Anders, contains a moving tribute to those pilots who never returned from their missions – not as faraway as the moon, but just as dangerous and far more frequent.

This audio presentation also includes a preface and afterward recorded by the author, Robert Zimmerman, noted science journalist, a member of the National Association of Science Writers, and winner of numerous awards. Grover Gardner has been the narrator of more than 500 books, including many of the most popular audio books ever recorded, including the three part biography of Lyndon Johnson by Robert Caro and Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton. AudioFile magazine refers to him as “one of the best voices of the century.”

“Genesis – the story of Apollo 8” was produced for audio distribution by space fan and Army Lt Colonel William Hartel, who spends his work days as a professor of dentistry at the University of Tennessee. It is available wherever audiobooks are sold and runs 9 hours and 33 minutes.

Contact info: William Hartel, whartel123@aol.com 314-402-5227

You can listen to Grover Gardner’s reading of the foreword by Valerie Anders here.

The audiobook can be purchased directly from all the standard vendors. Or you can get it free with a 30-day trial membership in Audible for $19.99. This costs $2 more than buying the book direct, but this free trial deal will give me a much bigger cut per sale. If you support what I am doing, consider it.

And as always, for those who prefer to read, the ebook edition is also available.

Genesis cover

The ebook edition of Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8 includes a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

 

Available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the publisher, Mountain Lake Press.

 

“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

Share
Share

No Zimmerman/Batchelor podcasts this week

For those who are eager to get their Zimmerman space updates by listening to my regular Tuesday and Thursday podcasts with John Batchelor, I am sorry to say that we likely will not have any this week.

I am suffering from a bad case of bronchitis which does not allow me to utter more than a sentence or two without going into a fit of coughing. Talking on the radio for twenty minutes is thus quite difficult. Last week I managed to get through two podcasts with John plus a two hour appearance on the Space Show, but this week the condition seems to have worsened.

I have done the doctor routine, and the condition is being addressed. If all goes as hoped and the meds do their job, things could be better as soon as Friday, which means John and I might do a podcast then. More likely it will have to wait until next week. Then, however, Batchelor will be on the road, so any podcast will be done live instead our normal taping, which means my throat will have to be even better. We shall have to wait to see how things go.

For me personally, the worst part of this is that it is occurring in July, during my annual fund-raising drive. Without question I have found that not being on the John Batchelor show has hurt the campaign. Thus, if you are reading this and have thought about donating to Behind the Black, this would especially be a good time to do so. Your support now would be doubly appreciated.

Share

July 17, 2018 Zimmerman/Livingston podcast

The podcast of my two hour appearance on The Space Show is now available here. I like this quote from David’s summary of the program at the link:

Bob spent the better part of the first segment of the program responding to Linda and in the customary Zimmerman fashion, making the case for private commercial space to champion because of freedom and liberty and the core values of the country.

Twas a really interesting show. Lots of very good questions as well as intriguing dialogue from callers.

Share

On the radio

Tonight I will have two radio appearances. First my normal twenty minute John Batchelor Show appearance will be structured somewhat differently. Instead of reviewing the space news for the past few days, we will be focused entirely on reviewing NASA’s seeming effort to slow commercial space down, so as to reduce the embarrassment to SLS as well as benefit Boeing.

The idea will be that we will make believe that I am giving a briefing to Mike Pence and the National Space Council, explaining in detail why NASA actually seems hostile to getting anything done. It is our hope that maybe someone in the administration might hear it, and rethink the Trump space policy.

Then, beginning at 7 pm (Pacific), I will be doing another live two hour appearance on The Space Show with David Livingston. I am sure the same subject will come up, along with other things. Feel free to call in to ask questions. David does not screen his calls, so this is your opportunity to ask me anything.

Share

Day off on the Fourth of July in Belize

After three hard days of caving, I decided to take the Fourth of July off to rest, relax, sit by the pool, and catch up with the news in space and elsewhere.

The cave surveying has been going well, but we have been trying to finish the survey of the cave’s largest room, and have found it daunting. Basically we have four survey teams spread out across the room’s width, marching forward to cover the entire passage. Since the room is never less than 150 feet wide, this takes time. After three full days of work, we finally reached the far wall yesterday, though we still have significant clean-up in many places.

Nor is this the cave’s only passage. We have several other areas that need survey, many of which I hope the local cavers will do after we Americans go home on Saturday.

Share

On the radio

I will be spending a half hour today at 5:05 pm (Central) with Robert Pratt of Pratt on Texas, aired on 790-AM KFYO in Lubbock, 1470-AM KYYW in Abilene, and 1290-AM KWFS in Wichita Falls.

The subject will be the recent successful legal push back by conservatives against the oppressive lies from the left, as outlined in my post earlier this week, Some victories against modern leftist oppression.

And it appears that this push back is gaining steam, something we will certainly discuss.

Share

On The Space Show Monday March 19 7 pm PDT

Several recent stories regarding Trump’s space policy has prompted David Livingston to quickly schedule a Bob Zimmerman appearance on The Space Show for Monday, March 19, 7 pm (Pacific). The show will last at least ninety minutes. David especially wanted my analysis of Trump’s comments about the Falcon Heavy and SpaceX and how those comments have the big space contractors Boeing and Lockheed Martin quaking in their boots. Their fear and terror is further compounded by the present lack of a NASA administrator, which is made even worse by the announcement that the acting interim administrator is retiring at the end of March.

You can listen to the show live at the Space Show link. We are hoping that a number of my readers will call in with questions as well as their thoughts. The Space Show toll free number is 1 (866) 687-7223. David does not screen calls, though he expects those who call to have good questions or thoughts that will further the conversation in an entertaining way. And I don’t bite!

Share

Time for my annual birthday fund-raising campaign

As is obvious at the top of the page, I have today started my annual birthday request for donations or subscriptions to Behind The Black.

Please consider donating or subscribing to the website. Every dollar helps, even if it is as little as a $2 monthly subscription. Or you can consider instead buying either of my ebooks, Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, or Pioneer, both available either here at these links or from any bookseller.

Your contributions not only make it possible for my independent reporting on space, science, and culture to continue, it also keeps this page and its comment section alive. In the past four years that comment section has matured into a place where readers have a chance to exchange their vibrant and knowledgeable thoughts about the news I report here. I am continually impressed by the ideas expressed there by my readers. Help keep it going by donating to this site!

Share

On the radio

On Tuesday, December 19, 2017 I spent an hour with Robert Pratt on his Pratt on Texas radio show. Most of the show was devoted not to space and science but to discussing my weekly updates on the fascist culture on too many of today’s American campuses.

Robert has just let me know that this hour-long interview is going to be replayed twice over the next two weeks, on Christmas Day, December 25, 2017, and on New Year’s Day, January 1, 2018, both times from 6 to 7 pm Central time. He also let me know that the best link to listen is here.

So, if you have nothing better to do during these holidays, here is something that might help to fill your time.

Share

Off caving

Because I am off on a caving project this weekend in the mountains where there is no internet service, I will not be able to approve comments or post anything until I return on Sunday.

The next few days should be most interesting, as there are SpaceX and ULA launches scheduled. The SpaceX launch tonight will place a secret government satellite in orbit while trying to land its first stage. The ULA launch on Saturday will be the last launch for its Delta 2 rocket, which the company is retiring because it costs too much to operate.

Share

I am looking for a library to donate my space history files

I am in the process of updating my will, and in the process I am searching for a library or university or archive that would be an appropriate place to leave my space history archives, collected during the past two and a half decades. This archive includes recordings of numerous interviews with Russian and American astronauts and engineers as well as numerous scientists. It also documents quite thoroughly the first half century of the space age.

I had considered giving this archive to the four year university here in Tucson, but it appears they really don’t want it. My last conversation with the head of their special collections was quite hostile, making me wonder if he might have glanced at my webpage and was triggered by it.

If someone has a suggestion, please comment here or email me. My main desire is that this collection should stay intact. I also desire that whichever university or library accepts it also agree to this clause:

It is my request however that these space materials, which cover the history of the first half century of space exploration by someone who witnessed it and thus will be of special interest to future residents not living on Earth, shall be transferred to the first university established on a world other than Earth that is willing to cover the cost for that transfer. Should such transfer occur, the [Earth-bound university/archive] will have the right to retain copies of all materials.

Share

Pioneer

Pioneer

I am today announcing the publication of Pioneer, a science fiction book I first wrote back in 1982 that has languished in my files now for more than three decades. As I note in the introduction,

It was never published because at the time I could not find an agent to market it to book publishers, and was then too naive and shy to attempt to do such things myself.

In viewing several recent science fiction movies, however, I was motivated to pull the final draft of Pioneer from my files, wondering if it might be marketable. I hadn’t read it in decades, and had literally forgotten the story. I started reading expecting a typical first novel, somewhat incoherent and emotionally immature.

Instead I was quite surprised and enthralled. I couldn’t put the book down. Moreover, I was astonished at the coherence of the story and characters. “This is a good book!” I exclaimed to my wife Diane. Nor am I bragging when I say this, since the person who wrote it is someone from many decades ago and who essentially no longer exists.

Thus, I decided it was time to get Pioneer published, especially since this is now a very easy thing to do, no longer requiring either an agent or a book publisher.

The press release announcing the book’s publication provides the story’s premise:
» Read more

Share

Space law vs the Outer Space Treaty

My new op-ed at The Federalist is now online. Other than changing the title from my proposed version above to something a bit more unwieldy, “What You Need To Know About The Space Law Congress Is Considering,” they have posted it exactly as I wrote it.

The essay provides a very detailed analysis of the commercial space law that the House is presently considering. While they are proposing many good reforms, my conclusion unfortunately sums things up:

W.E.B. Du Bois, in studying the African slave trade, once asked, “How far in a State can a recognized moral wrong safely be compromised?” and answered his own question by saying that it is dangerous for “any nation, through carelessness and moral cowardice, [to allow] any social evil to grow. . . . From this we may conclude that it behooves nations as well as men to do things at the very moment when they ought to be done.”

The Outer Space Treaty poses limits on property rights. It also does not provide any mechanism for peacefully establishing sovereignty for any nation on any territory in space. Yet national sovereignty and territorial control is a given in all human societies. If we do nothing to establish a peaceful method for creating sovereignty and national territories in space, nations are going to find their own way to do it, often by force and violence. It behooves us to have the courage to face this issue now, and “do things at the very moment when they ought to be done.”

Read it all.

Share

Off to Israel + new op-ed!

My April travels continue. It has been too long since I traveled to Israel to visit family, so today I am heading out for the long flight, arriving tomorrow afternoon. I will be there until April 20. I expect I will be able to post, as I have in the past, though my commentary will likely be reduced somewhat.

Note that I will have a new op-ed published sometime this week at The Federalist entitled “What Trump’s space policy should really do.” I am positive that my conclusions will not be what most people expect. The op-ed was inspired by this comment by Edward Thelen, part of comments in connection with this Zimmerman/Batchelor podcast, where I talked about space exploration in the context of the American settlement of the west.

The comparison with the American west is appropriate. There have been other expansions throughout the world, too. In the 19th century, the US was not the only country that had a frontier. We have several examples of expansion from which to learn, but the frontiers in the Americas were clearly the largest, complete with immigration from the Old World straight to the frontier.

An example of a lesson — beyond Robert’s example of the Homesteading Act — is the need for better communication between the US east coast and California. Messages and people needed to move across the continent in far less time and in a safer manner than those that were available in 1860, so government funded a transcontinental railroad, a line longer than had ever been built or operated before. Earthbound or space-born governments may also have needs for similar large projects. Although the needs of We the People has been shown to be best met through private-ownership of free-market capitalist commerce, there will be times when government should also fund projects that solve its needs.

Edward was suggesting that the focus of the federal government — and Trump’s space policy — should be building an infrastructure that will make it easier for private companies and individuals to work in space. My initial response had agreed with him:

What NASA should do is build the kind of infrastructure that private enterprise needs to explore the Moon, the asteroids, and Mars. Build a communications network. Put communications satellites behind the Moon. Set up radiation monitors that private tourists trips will need to monitor solar and cosmic radiation. And even here, the model should be that used in the west with the transcontinental railroad, where the government hired private companies to do the work for it.

I need to think about this more. This needs to be written up properly.

In thinking about it, however, I completely rejected my initial response, and Edward’s suggestion. The infrastructure that the federal government needs to build in space has nothing to do with physical objects. This is the mistake everyone has been making for decades. In my op-ed I argue for something else entirely, and I hope the Trump administration is listening.

Stay tuned. When the Federalist op-ed gets posted I will post the url here immediately.

Share

Capitalism in Space:
Private Enterprise and Competition Reshape the Global Aerospace Launch Industry

After much delay and discussion, my policy paper for the Center for a New American Security, Capitalism in Space: Private Enterprise and Competition Reshape the Global Aerospace Launch Industry, has finally been published.

You can download the pdf here or at the Center here. Please feel free to distribute this widely. If you visit other websites please pass it on to them. This should be read by as many people as possible, especially since the space policy of the Trump administration remains at present undecided. This policy paper will help them work out a wise policy, with the paper’s key data point contained in this table:

SLS vs Commercial space

I document my numbers very carefully. The result illustrates clearly how much a failure the government model has been and continues to be. We have spent a lot of money since the 1970s on NASA and space, and have generally gotten very little for that investment, as demonstrated by the comparison between the accomplishments of private and government space in the past two decades. Going forward it is going to be very difficult for SLS/Orion to compete with the heavy lift rockets coming from SpaceX and Blue Origin.

My concluding words:
» Read more

Share

Off to Belize

Today, Wednesday, I head to the airport to return to the western regions of Belize for a week of cave exploration and mapping. Last time I was there in May we began a cave survey. I am now the cartographer for this project, and this time I hope we can finish it.

I intend to post while in Belize, though it will likely have to wait until each evening when we get back from the caves. I also intend to do my Batchelor appearances, but this time live from Mayan Mountain Lodge in San Ignacio, where we will be staying. The lodge was gracious enough in May to let me use their office and phone, and I expect they will be agreeable again this time.

Anyway, off for more adventure. The world is much too fascinating a place to see it just from my desk by way of the internet. You have to get out and see it for real whenever you can!

Share

Birthday bleg time again!

As you can obviously see, I have placed my annual request for donations or subscriptions to Behind The Black at the top of the page. It is February, and it is once again time to hold my annual birthday fundraising campaign.

Please consider donating or subscribing to the website. Every dollar helps, even if it is as little as a $2 monthly subscription. Not only will those contributions help me continue my independent reporting, it will keep the commenting feature of this webpage alive, which many of my readers have discovered to be a refreshing place to civilly discuss the issues of the day, without rancor or insults.

Share

In Santa Barbara

I am now in Santa Barbara, California. Tomorrow I drive up to Vandenberg Air Force to give a lecture for the local chapter of the AIAA. This is why posting today and tomorrow will be light. I might get some posts in later tonight, but don’t expect a lot. When I return I plan on an essay on the subject of squealing pigs.

I will let my readers guess as to the subject matter. I suspect many of you will be able to.

Share
1 2 3 5