Axiom Space selected to build ISS commercial segment


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Axiom Space selected to build ISS commercial segment

NASA announced the start of a partnership with Axiom Space, a Houston-based company, to launch the first private modules of the International Space Station. The agreement was concluded as part of the NextSTEP-2 program, which is designed to help develop private technologies in manned space exploration.

Acceptance of applications for the construction of private ISS modules began on June 9, 2019, after NASA announced an ambitious program to commercialize the station. NanoRacks also offered its space module, which is launching microsatellites to the ISS and is preparing to launch a small gateway module to the station as early as 2020 in the framework of cooperation with the Japan Space Agency.

Unlike NanoRacks, Axiom Space has no experience using the ISS. The company was founded in 2016 by the former ISS Program Director at the NASA Space Center. Johnson by Mike Saffredini. The company has several former astronauts, as well as Charlie Bolden, the previous director of NASA, who headed the agency in 2009-2017. The company has entered into cooperation agreements with several large corporations in the US rocket and space industry, including Boeing, Maxar Technologies, Intuitive Machines, as well as the European Thales Aleina Space (TAS). Most likely, they will be engaged in the development and construction of modules. During the construction of the American segment of the station, the main contractor was Boeing, and its subcontractor was TAS and, in the case of the Zarya module, RSC Energia.

Axiom plans to launch a nodal module to which one residential module, one laboratory / production module and a survey dome similar to the “Cupola” of the European Space Agency will be docked. According to a published press release, the deployment of the segment should begin in the second half of 2024. The Axiom node module will dock to the front docking port of the Harmony module.

No details about the characteristics of the new NASA and Axiom Space modules are given. Moreover, they report that the detailed terms of the contract and its financing will be agreed upon later.

After the ISS is operational, Axiom plans to separate and leave its segment in orbit as a private space station. Before that, it will be supplemented by a large energy platform with solar panels.

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