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SpaceX launches Axiom’s second commercial manned mission to ISS

SpaceX today successfully used its Falcon 9 rocket to launch its Freedom manned capsule on its second flight, carrying four passengers on Axiom’s second commercial manned mission to ISS.

The Axiom crew included three paying passengers, one from the U.S. and two from Saudi Arabia, with the fourth crew member former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, now acting as Axiom’s commander. They plan to spend eight days docked to ISS. Making this commercial flight even more interesting is that the station already has a Middle Eastern commercial astronaut, from the United Arab Emirates. The Arab space race is clearing heating up.

The first stage was making its first flight, and successfully landed back at Cape Canaveral.

Were you aware this was happening? With my readers I expect so, but I am willing to bet that we are a very small minority. SpaceX has now made American manned spaceflight so routine almost no one pays attention.

The leaders in the 2023 launch race:

34 SpaceX
18 China
6 Russia
4 Rocket Lab

American private enterprise now leads China 38 to 18 in the national rankings, and the entire world combined 38 to 30. SpaceX by itself is now tied in total launches with the rest of the world, including American companies.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. All editions can also be purchased direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • Joe

    Beautiful launch and first stage landing. Putting the stage down on land was new for a crewed flight.

  • Ray Van Dune

    Surprisingly, NPR had a nearly minute-long segment on the launch this morning. Must have been the woman-as-commander thing, but I doubt Peggy Whitson is typical of their core *AWFL audience! The SpaceX coverage this afternoon was typically excellent, with plenty of airtime featuring the beautiful Kate Tice!

    *Affluent White Female Liberal

  • As I’ve noted, UAE is quietly making some noise in space operations..

  • Richard M

    Nice to see Col. John Insprucker back on the SpaceX launch stream.

    SpaceX has now made American manned spaceflight so routine almost no one pays attention.

    On human space flight, they’re starting to approach peak Shuttle cadence levels. In 2023, if the schedule holds, they will launch 20 astronauts to orbit, across five Crew Dragon missions. How does that stack up with the rest of the world?

    SpaceX: 20
    China/CMSA: 6
    Russia/Roscosmos: 3
    Boeing: 2

    SpaceX literally will be putting more human beings into orbit than everyone else in the world put together.

    Why, in fact . . . they will be launching more *private* astronauts into orbit (12) than the rest of the world put together! A new age of spaceflight is dawning.

  • Richard M

    Hi Bob,

    They plan to spend sixteen days docked to ISS.

    Correction: It will only be 8 days at ISS now. They shortened the mission because the launch had been pushed back, and there are looming traffic jams at both ISS and LC-39A.

    The Dragon spacecraft, named Freedom, is scheduled to dock with the station at about 9:30 a.m. Eastern May 22. The spacecraft will remain there for eight days before returning with its four-person crew.

    The Ax-2 mission was scheduled to spend 10 days at the ISS, but delays in the launch caused by a postponed Falcon Heavy launch led Axiom Space and NASA to agree to shorten the mission by two days to fit it into a crowded manifest of missions going to the station.

  • Edward

    Were you aware this was happening?

    Yes, but I thought they were launching in late May.

    Oh. Right. I just can’t believe that April is already over.*

    SpaceX has now made American manned spaceflight so routine almost no one pays attention.

    Kate Tice pointed out that this is SpaceX’s tenth manned mission. No wonder the rest of the world yawns at it, it has been done so many times before. What are they doing that is new or newsworthy?

    SpaceX by itself is now tied in total launches with the rest of the world, including American companies.

    That is quite a prolific company! Already they are on pace to exceed 100 (successful orbital) launches this year. That should be newsworthy, but once again, it is merely routine. Rocket Lab, with its own reusable launch vehicles, may also be able to achieve this launch rate in a decade, similar to SpaceX.
    * By this I mean April of 1994. For me, that was one looong month. And, yes, I have been saying this for 29 years (although I’m not that old).

  • John

    I knew about it and set my alarm to remind me to tune in. But I was busy, and decided to keep doing what I was doing. I guess manned flights are now routine.

  • pzatchok

    And I remember that just last year China was launch at a rate to equal or better Space X.
    I predicted that a huge amount of those flights were just blind launches with little to no science payload or I think in some cases nothing more than an orbital object.

    I also predicted that China would drop off severely this year in launches because they were just launching for internal propaganda. I bet they are blocking all news of Space X inside China now since they were able to officially claim last year more launches than Space X.

    Granted they are doing good work in space but that number of launches was not sustainable.

  • Richard M: Thank you for the correction. I am forever grateful for my readers for keeping me honest.

  • Andi

    Minor edit in first sentence: “to launch”

  • Ray Van Dune

    I noticed that Commander Peggy Whitson, consummate professional that she is, got out of the camera view quickly in the first on-orbit report, and let three first-timers share the limited air time. She’s a class act.

    On that limited air-time, wasn’t the whole point of TDRS (many years ago) to ensure that spacecraft were always in communication with their control centers? Seems like that used to include video, but does no longer. This morning’s docking was audio-only.

  • Andi: Fixed. Thank you.

  • Star Bird

    I would like to see them build a big time Prison in Space we can send the worst of the worst

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