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I am now in the final week of my July fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black, celebrating its 14th anniversary. Thank you all, from the people who have donated small amounts to those who have given large sums. I cannot truly express how much your support means to me.


The support of my readers through the years has given me the freedom and ability to analyze objectively the ongoing renaissance in space, as well as the cultural changes -- for good or ill -- that are happening across America. Four years ago, just before the 2020 election I wrote that Joe Biden's mental health was suspect. Only in the past two weeks has the mainstream media decided to recognize that basic fact.


Fourteen years ago I wrote that SLS and Orion were a bad ideas, a waste of money, would be years behind schedule, and better replaced by commercial private enterprise. Even today NASA and Congress refuses to recognize this reality.


In 2020 when the world panicked over COVID I wrote that the panic was unnecessary, that the virus was apparently simply a variation of the flu, that masks were not simply pointless but if worn incorrectly were a health threat, that the lockdowns were a disaster and did nothing to stop the spread of COVID. Only in the past year have some of our so-called experts in the health field have begun to recognize these facts.


Your help allows me to do this kind of intelligent analysis. I take no advertising or sponsors, so my reporting isn't influenced by donations by established space or drug companies. Instead, I rely entirely on donations and subscriptions from my readers, which gives me the freedom to write what I think, unencumbered by outside influences.


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Axiom raises $350 million in private investment capital

Axiom's space station assembly sequence
The assembly sequence for Axiom’s space station while attached to ISS.
Click for original image.

Axiom announced today that in its most recent round of funding it raised an additional $350 million in private investment capital, almost tripling the private capital it has obtained in total.

Axiom Space announced today that it secured $350 million in its Series-C round of growth funding, lifting the total funds raised to over $505 million from investors and achieving more than $2.2 billion in customer contracts.

To date, Aljazira Capital and Boryung Co., Ltd., have anchored the round, paired with support from an array of diverse backers that include deep-tech venture capital funds and strategic brand partners, positioning Axiom Space as second to SpaceX for the most amount of money raised by a private space company in 2023, based on available pitchbook data.

The press release also reaffirms the company’s planned schedule for its space station project, with the first module launching and attaching to ISS in 2026. The graphic shows the assembly sequence, with the rear docking port the one linked to ISS. When assembly reaches the stage of the fourth image it will then be able to separate from ISS and fly independently in 2031. That last number however is one year later than NASA’s previous predictions for the retirement of ISS, suggesting Axiom knows something NASA has not yet told us.

Hat tip to Jay, BtB’s stringer.

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 print edition can be purchased at Amazon. Or you can buy it directly from the author and get an autographed copy.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

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


  • Ray Van Dune

    It is good to read some apparently high quality information on the space business here, but in the “mainstream” news it seems to be hit and miss.

    This morning, in my local lib-rag (aka newspaper) I read that while in 2018 NASA was paying an average of $151 million per launch, SpaceX is now averaging only $67 million per launch. The article then breathlessly continues that “Blue Origin also has a fleet of reusable rockets and satellites”! All this in an article claiming to be an analysis of investment opportunities in the space industry. Good grief! Was someone actually paid to write this?

  • David Ross

    I reckon that, yes, someone was paid to write about Amazon Blue Origin.

  • Concerned

    Ray Van Dune: off-topic, but why do you still subscribe to your local lib-rag newspaper? You’re paying good money for a propaganda piece that doesn’t share your values and actively tries to counter them. I stayed with my local lib-rag WAY longer than I should have, mostly because my wife likes to read the local obits. When she finally relented, we felt much better– now in desperation the paper is delivered free! to my house every Sunday. I still can’t stand to read it and it goes straight to the trash (if I can’t use it to protect surfaces during painting projects)

  • Edward

    That last number however is one year later than NASA’s previous predictions for the retirement of ISS, suggesting Axiom knows something NASA has not yet told us.

    Or maybe it is just a typographical error.

    What worries me, however, is the space industry. Other industries are mature enough that new models of a product can come out each year on schedule. The space industry is not that mature, and it is difficult to stick to a published schedule. Careful planning all too often becomes overcome by events. A doodad or gewgaw has some problem during assembly or testing, eating up more than the available contingency schedule, delaying the first module, and the redirection of resources to finish the first module causes delays in the next module to launch, which is further delayed by a problem with some thingamajig, and a delayed whizbang causes additional delays in the module after that. Delays build up until the launch of the necessary solar array module comes after the ISS has reentered the atmosphere over the Pacific.

    The James Webb Space Telescope is an example of how this happens. The Space Shuttle had a similar problematic history. The BE-4 rocket engine shows how new aerospace companies are especially susceptible to this problem, in this case causing delays in development of two different rockets. Established heritage companies are not immune, as demonstrated by the problems with Boeing’s Starliner. I’m not quite sure why SpaceX has made development look so easy, but they have managed to make rapid development a reality, once again, in the aerospace industry. We expect the other companies to be able to perform similarly well.

    In 2016, ULA had a vision, “CisLunar 1000,” ( 7 minutes) in which there would be 20 people working in space by the year 2021. It looks like it may take much longer for this to happen, because the space industry has a hard time meeting a schedule, much less a vision. Delays in the government’s encouragement of commercial manned spaceflight was one factor in the delay of 20 workers in space, but the loss of Bigelow’s space habitats has put off commercial space stations from early in this decade (perhaps by 2022) to much later in this decade. The first independently flying commercial space station is not scheduled to fly for another half decade, and it is hard to keep aerospace schedules. SpaceX has finally mentioned the possibility of using a manned Starship as a makeshift space station, so perhaps some form of commercial space station may fly in a few years.

    On further reflection, I’m not so sure that SpaceX is really all that fast at its development process. Sure, they get something flying fairly quickly, making it operational, but then they keep making improvements. The first operational Falcon 9 was very different from the current version, and the intervening versions took several years to finalize into the current version. Getting a flight version in order to begin revenue operations was more important than making it reusable from the start. Dragon is similar. They quickly had a version flying, generating revenue, but they had grander plans in mind, which took a few more years to develop.

    Starlink was also flown with early versions that were not yet ready to use for revenue service, some or most of the bugs worked out during early flight testing, then a rapid-to-build and rapid-to-deploy version was launched in order to begin operations. Now they are launching an even better version — or rather two variants of the second version, one smaller and lighter in order to begin revenue operations and to meet FCC requirements to launch half its fleet within a short period of time after license approval. OneWeb and Starlink are both beginning to launch their main revenue versions of their constellations. Both companies proposed their constellations at about the same time, too. SpaceX, however, did not wait for the final version to be perfected before launching a lesser version that started revenue service.

    It looks like the plan for Starship is similar, that they will get some version flying as they finalize the development of the eventual version — the common chassis version for creating each of the varietals: Pez dispenser, Payload to orbit, Crew to destination, Propellant delivery to orbit, maybe other varietals.

    Sierra Space is doing something similar. Dream Chaser will start as a revenue-generating cargo ship, and its manned version will come later, when they can afford to finish its development.

    SLS, JWST, ISS, and other space projects took long periods of time to develop. These three listed examples took two decades to complete (I count Constellation as part of SLS, as the one was built upon the remains of the other), and they were the final versions of each project. NASA waited for perfection before launching them and getting them operational, without using development versions to verify concepts and to meet partial goals early. Projects Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo each took less than one decade — rapid development, similar to what SpaceX is doing — and each project built on the lessons learned from the previous one.

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