NASA this week announced an official plan to add an orbiting joint working space to the International Space Station. NASA said Monday it has chosen Houston-based company Axiom Space to provide it with its first liveable commercial module signed to the International Space Station. In recent years, NASA has been working to commercialize space and the so-called “low-Earth orbit economy.”
“Axiom’s commitment to developing commercial destinations in space is a critical step in NASA’s long-term need to meet its long-term needs for astronaut training, scientific research and technical demonstrations in low-Earth orbit,” NASA Administrator Jim Bradenstin said in a press release. “
As a result, NASA and other space agencies are likely to be Axiom’s first customers. The company is run by Michael Suffredini, a former ISS project manager. It will provide at least one element connected to the forward port of Node 2 on the International Space Station, which has been used as a utility hub and astronaut’s sleeping area.
Axiom’s plan is to provide a new business gateway to space, giving researchers, manufacturers and wealthy tourists, as well as others, the opportunity to travel to space. While its ambitions began with the sending of personnel to the International Space Station and its affiliated modules, the company’s long-term goal is to eventually disengage them and become part of the company’s private, independent space station.
In an article in Elite Traveler last month, Suffredini wrote: “We are only just beginning to realize the results of years of research (in low-Earth orbit) and can now conceptualize the possibilities offered by microgravity manufacturing, such as high-quality drugs, 3D-printed human organs, High-performance fiber optic cables and super alloys. “
Axiom also reportedly hired former astronaut and NASA administrator Charles Bolden. It is not clear how new commercial space will be installed in space, but Axiom said it hopes to begin sending customers to the International Space Station in 2021.