NASA has selected the company Axiom Space to supply a habitable commercial module that can be attached to the International Space Station.
The element will attach to the space station’s Node 2 forward port to demonstrate its ability to provide products and services and begin the transition to a sustainable low-Earth orbit economy in which NASA is one of many customers.
“This new commercial platform will significantly increase the usable and habitable volume of the ISS, provide for novel avenues of research in areas such as isolation studies and Earth observation, and allow a gradual transfer of the innovative work being done on-station to prevent interruptions when the ISS is ultimately retired,” Axiom said in a statement.
Developing commercial destinations in low-Earth orbit is one of five elements of NASA’s plan to open the International Space Station to new commercial and marketing opportunities. The other elements of the five-point plan include efforts to make station and crew resources available for commercial use through a new commercial use and pricing policy; enable private astronaut missions to the station; seek out and pursue opportunities to stimulate long-term, sustainable demand for these services; and quantify NASA’s long-term demand for activities in low-Earth orbit.
“Axiom’s work to develop a commercial destination in space is a critical step for NASA to meet its long-term needs for astronaut training, scientific research, and technology demonstrations in low-Earth orbit,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
The company has set the target for the launch of the first module in the latter half of 2024.