Houston-based Axiom Space’s ambitious project to build and operate the world’s first commercial space station has begun to reveal more details. European space maker Thales Alenia Space will develop two compressed modules for the Axium space station. The two components, which are slated to launch in 2024 and 2025, will finally dock into the International Space Station before being operated as a fully independent, commercial station.
On Thursday, the two companies announced the signing of a final contract worth €110 million ($130 million). Each module will be able to accommodate four people. Thales will design a micrometroid and debris protection system for each module. The modules are still in their design phase, Thales Alenia said. The company recently completed the development of four radial bulkheads of the first module for its convenience in Turin, Italy. Bulkheads, once connected will form a cylinder. This structure will be connected to common berth processes, some parts of the module that will be connected to ISS and hatches.
The two modules have a long road in front of them. Thales Alenia, a joint venture between French company Thales Group and Italian team Leonardo, will begin welding on the first module in September next year. That module will be shipped to Axium’s Texas facility in July 2023, where Axium will then integrate the core systems and prepare for launch in 2024. In January 2020, NASA tapped Axiom to build the first commercial housing for the ISS. After the ISS is abolished, Axium’s station will be separated and function as a commercial center for future missions and scientific testing. In January 2020, NASA tapped Axiom to build the first commercial housing for the ISS. After the ISS is abolished, Axium’s station will be separated and function as a commercial center for future missions and scientific testing.
This is a big part of NASA’s plan to encourage the development of the growing low-Earth orbit economy and other private orbit labs and commercial facilities. Axiom will also conduct ISS ‘first fully private mission scheduled for January 2022. An Axiom Mission 1 will ship four private astronauts aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon for an eight-day mission.