The Axiom could be the first commercial station in space.
There has never been a privately held space station in human history. The International Space Station (ISS), the Chinese Tiangong, and the Russian Mir have all been nation-state projects. US-based Axiom Space plans to be the first company to launch a space station, named the Axiom, into Earth orbit.
Axiom Space plans to assemble the Axiom Space Station in stages. Axiom Space will first launch modules to connect to the ISS. This is expected to start in 2020, with more modules added through to 2024. When the ISS is decommissioned in 2024, the Axiom station will separate and sail in low Earth orbit.
Because it’s a business, the station has to make money. Axiom Space plans to start a manufacturing business on the Axiom, which includes making small satellites. These can be deployed from the station, at a fraction of the cost of launching them from Earth.
And because it’s privately held, Axiom Space can do things a little differently. It recently released, for example, details on a vacation package. Gilded adventurers can pay to glide into space and spend 10 days aboard the ISS. They’ll stay in an Axiom Space habitation module designed by Philippe Starck and experience space in Moncler flight suits. The first flights are expected to start in 2022. They will cost US$55 million per passenger.
It all sounds very much like science fiction, and it doesn’t help that the Axiom shares the same name as the space barge in the animated movie, Wall-E. Axiom Space’s president and CEO Michael Suffredini, however, managed NASA’s ISS program for a decade. Its chairman Kam Ghaffarian was a NASA contractor that operated the ISS. That lends some credibility to this wildly ambitious enterprise.
PICTURES AXIOM SPACE