On Monday the National Aeronautics and Space Administration selected Axiom Space as the winner of the NextSTEP-2 Appendix I solicitation, which sought to grant access to the International Space Station's Node 2 Forward port for a commercial space station that could ultimately serve as ISS' replacement.
Co-founded by stalwart space entrepreneur Dr. Kam Ghaffarian and former NASA ISS Program Manager Michael Suffredini, Axiom plans to launch a node module, research & manufacturing facility, crew habitat, and large-windowed Earth observatory to form the "Axiom Segment" of the ISS. This new commercial platform will increase the usable and habitable volume of the ISS, provide for avenues of research in areas such as isolation studies and Earth observation, and allow a gradual transfer of the work being done on-station to prevent interruptions when the ISS is ultimately retired.
The company targets launch of the first module in the latter half of 2024.
Team Axiom also includes Boeing, Thales Alenia Space Italy, Intuitive Machines, and Maxar Technologies.
Axiom was founded in 2016 with the purpose of expanding human civilization into Earth orbit. In addition to building and launching the Axiom Segment, the company will launch crewed flights to the ISS and later the ISS/Axiom complex at a rate of about two to three flights per year. Shortly before ISS is retired, Axiom will launch its large power platform to provide the Axiom Segment power and cooling that ISS previously provided.
When the ISS reaches its decommissioning date, the Axiom Segment will detach and continue as a free-flying, internationally available commercial space station. This station will have been built at a fraction of the cost of ISS, the elimination of whose operating costs will enable NASA to dive headlong into a new era of exploration.