Axiom Space

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Axiom Space, Inc.
TypePrivate incorporated company
IndustryAerospace
Founded2016; 6 years ago (2016)
FounderMichael T. Suffredini
Kam Ghaffarian[1]
Headquarters
Key people
Services
Number of employees
520 (2022)
Websiteaxiomspace.com
Footnotes / references
[2]

Axiom Space, Inc., also known as Axiom, is an American privately funded space infrastructure developer headquartered in Houston, Texas.

Founded in 2016 by Michael T. Suffredini and Kam Ghaffarian, the company first flew a spaceflight in 2022: Axiom Mission 1, the first commercially crewed private spaceflight to the International Space Station. The company aims to own and operate the world's first commercial space station in 2025.[3][4] The company's employees include former NASA Administrator Charles Bolden[5] and astronauts Michael Lopez-Alegria and Brent W. Jett Jr.[6]

The company sent its first commercial astronauts into orbit in 2022. It also plans human spaceflight for government-funded and commercial astronauts engaging in in-space research, in-space manufacturing, and space exploration.[7]

History[edit]

Michael Suffredini in 2012

Axiom Space CEO Michael T. Suffredini was previously the program manager for the International Space Station from 2005 to 2015.[8] After retiring from NASA, Suffredini and Kam Ghaffarian started Axiom to target the emerging commercial spaceflight market. Ghaffarian is an engineer and entrepreneur who sold his company, Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies, Inc., a large NASA contractor, to KBR in 2018.[9]

The company was selected by NASA to provide the first commercial destination module on the International Space Station.[10] Axiom also announced in March 2020 a contract with SpaceX to fly commercial astronauts to the International Space Station via Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon scheduled for March 2022; launch took place 8 April 2022[11] and crew returned on 25 April.[12]

The company had 110 employees as of February 2021,[13] with offices located in Houston and Los Angeles.[citation needed]

NASA contract for ISS modules[edit]

Artist's rendering of Axiom modules connected to ISS

In 2020, as part of the broader Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) cislunar initiative, NASA awarded Axiom a US$140 million contract to provide at least one habitable spacecraft to attach to the International Space Station.[10] Axiom was the only selected proposal from the solicitation process due in 2019.[14] Bigelow Aerospace did not submit a proposal and has subsequently ceased operations.[15]

The modules constructed by Axiom are designed to attach to the Harmony forward port with the intent to demonstrate an ability to commercially provide services and products in the low Earth orbit economy. The "Axiom Segment" of the station was planned, as of January 2020, to include a node module to act as a connector, a research and manufacturing facility, a crew habitat, and a "large-windowed" module for viewing the Earth.[16]

Axiom Station[edit]

Axiom Station intends to have its spacecraft modules individually launched and assembled in-orbit, first attaching to the International Space Station. Before ISS retirement (and atmospheric reentry), the company plans to detach its modules and commence orbit on its own as Axiom Station.[17][18] Axiom renderings from 2020 illustrate how modules might be berthed and relocated on the ISS by the Mobile Servicing System, specifically the Canadarm2. Canadarm2 might also continue its operations on the Axiom Space Station after the retirement of ISS in late 2020s.[19][20] The company is currently targeting late 2025 for the launch of its first module to the ISS and the late-2020s for station completion.[3]

Axiom plans to conduct astronaut training for commercial astronauts, to host governments and commercial partners. Up to three Axiom modules could attach to the International Space Station. The first module is expected to dock to the forward port of Harmony, which would require relocation of the PMA-2. Axiom Space plans to attach up to two additional modules to its initial core module, and send private astronauts to visit the modules.[1]

The Future Axiom Earth Observatory interior (Artist's illustration of the model designed by Philippe Starck)

The interior for Axiom Station was designed in 2018 by French architect Philippe Starck. Renderings of the habitat show a chamber with walls that are covered with tufted padding and studded with hundreds of color-changing LEDs.[21] Axiom has publicly stated an intent to maintain at least one astronaut in the station continuously,[when?] who will be assigned to take care of research projects and station repairs.[22] This includes amenities like high-speed Wi-Fi, video screens, picture windows, and a glass-walled cupola.[23]

Human spaceflight[edit]

Axiom plans to provide human spaceflight services to people, corporations, and space agencies. Missions to the International Space Station are offered by Axiom, with a 10-day mission including 15 weeks of training.[24] In addition to training, Axiom states that the package will include mission planning, hardware development, life support, medical support, crew provisions, hardware and safety certifications, on-orbit operations, and mission management.[25] Missions could extend for longer periods of time depending on the focus of the spaceflight.

In June 2020, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Axiom was involved with the filming of a Tom Cruise movie to the ISS [26] with SpaceX expected to be the transportation partner for the flights.[27]

Astronauts[edit]

In-space research and manufacturing[edit]

Crystals grown in microgravity

Axiom intends to commercialize microgravity research and development, using the ISS National Lab until its own modules are operational.[citation needed]

Missions[edit]

In early June 2021, Axiom announced a deal with SpaceX which added three additional crewed flights to the ISS, for a total of four.[31]

Axiom Mission 1 at LC-39A undergoing prelaunch preparations

Ax-1[edit]

Axiom Mission 1 (or Ax-1)[32] was a privately funded and operated crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The mission was operated by Axiom Space out of Axiom's Mission Control Center MCC-A[33] in Houston, Texas. The flight launched on 8 April 2022 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.[34] The spacecraft used was a SpaceX Crew Dragon. The crew consisted of Michael López-Alegría,[35] an American born in Spain and a professionally trained astronaut hired by Axiom, Eytan Stibbe[36] from Israel,[37] Larry Connor from the United States,[37] and Mark Pathy from Canada.[37]

Ax-2[edit]

Ax-2 is a planned private crew mission to the ISS. The flight is slated to launch in the second quarter of 2023 and send four people to the ISS.[38][39] On 25 May 2021, Axiom announced that former NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson would be the mission commander and John Shoffner would be the mission pilot.[40] On September 20th, 2022 it was reported that Saudi Arabia had bought the remaining two seats for the mission.[41]

Ax-3[edit]

Ax-3 is a planned private crew mission to the ISS. The flight will launch no earlier than 2023 and carry four people to the ISS.[42][43] The crew is expected to include Walter Villadei along with two Turkish astronauts and is expected to launch in late 2023.[44] [45]

Ax-4[edit]

Ax-4 is a planned private crew mission to the ISS. The flight will launch no earlier than 2023 and carry four people to the ISS, including the winner of the Space Hero reality television show.[42][43] The crew is expected to include a Hungarian astronaut.[46]

Axiom Mission Control Center[edit]

In January 2022, the Axiom Space Mission Control Center (or MCC-A) completed its first on-orbit operation on the ISS. The MCC-A, located at Axiom's HQ in Houston, TX, is registered as a payload operations site.[47]

Flights[edit]

Mission Patch Launch date (UTC) Landing date (UTC) Crew Duration Vehicle Remarks Outcome
Axiom Mission 1 Axiom-1 Patch 8 April 2022[48] 25 April 2022 17 days Crew Dragon Endeavour[49] First Crew Dragon flight contracted by Axiom Space. First fully private flight to the ISS, carrying Michael López-Alegría as Axiom professional astronaut,[50] Eytan Stibbe to conduct educational experiments for a 17-day trip,[51][52] Larry Connor and Mark Pathy, both heading investment companies.[50] Success
Axiom Mission 2 Q2 2023[38] Q2 2023 10 days Crew Dragon Second Crew Dragon flight contracted by Axiom Space.[39] Second fully private flight to the ISS, carrying Peggy Whitson as Axiom professional astronaut. Planned
Axiom Mission 3 Late 2023 Late 2023
Crew Dragon Planned
Axiom Mission 4 2023 Planned

Space suit[edit]

Future NASA contracted suits[edit]

On 1 June 2022, NASA announced it had selected Axiom Space along with competing Collins Aerospace to develop and provide astronauts with next generation spacesuit and spacewalk systems to first test and later use outside the International Space Station, as well as on the lunar surface for the crewed Artemis missions, and prepare for human missions to Mars.[54][55]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "NASA selects Axiom Space to build commercial space station module". SpaceNews. 28 January 2020. Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  2. ^ "Axiom Raises US$130 million". GeekWire. 16 February 2021. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  3. ^ a b Foust, Jeff (14 October 2022). "Commercial space station developers seek clarity on regulations". SpaceNews. Retrieved 21 November 2022.
  4. ^ Wall, Mike (14 June 2018). "Want to Take a 10-Day Trip to the Space Station? It'll Cost You US$55 Million". Space.com. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  5. ^ Mack, Eric. "NASA will attach a private room to rent on the International Space Station". CNET. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  6. ^ "Rising Star - Axiom Space". SpaceFund. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  7. ^ Mack, Eric. "On NASA's 60th birthday, it's reinventing itself for the SpaceX era". CNET. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  8. ^ Reichhardt, Troy. "This Group of NASA Veterans Wants to Build Their Own Space Station". airspacemag.com. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  9. ^ Wilkers, Ross. "In SGT deal, KBR further transforms its government services business". Washington Technology. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  10. ^ a b Northon, Karen (27 January 2020). "NASA Selects First Commercial Destination Module for International Space Station". nasa.gov. NASA. Retrieved 12 June 2020. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  11. ^ Stephen Clark (5 March 2020). "Axiom strikes deal with SpaceX to ferry private astronauts to space station". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  12. ^ "The 1st private astronaut mission to International Space Station is back on Earth". NPR. Associated Press. 25 April 2022.
  13. ^ Sheetz, Michael (16 February 2021). "Private spaceflight specialist Axiom Space raises US$130 million to become the latest space unicorn". CNBC. Retrieved 21 June 2021.
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  15. ^ Foust, Jeff (23 March 2020). "Bigelow Aerospace lays off entire workforce". SpaceNews. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
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  17. ^ "Axiom Space - Axiom Commercial Space Station". Axiom Space. Retrieved 14 February 2020.
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  25. ^ Boyle, Alan (5 March 2020). "Axiom Space makes deal with SpaceX to send customers to space station next year". GeekWire. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  26. ^ "Origins: Jim Bridenstine". offnominal.space. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  27. ^ Sheetz, Michael (5 May 2020). "NASA is working with Tom Cruise to film a movie in space". CNBC. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  28. ^ "Peggy Whitson". Axiom Space. Retrieved 6 April 2022.
  29. ^ "Michael Lopez-Alegria". Axiom Space. Retrieved 6 April 2022.
  30. ^ "Axiom Space to train Italian Air Force's Col. Walter Villadei as professional astronaut for future space mission". Axiom Space. Retrieved 6 April 2022.
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  34. ^ "NASA Launch Schedule". NASA. 28 March 2022. Retrieved 29 March 2022.
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  46. ^ Megállapodást írt alá hazánk és az Axiom Space űrvállalat
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  54. ^ "NASA Partners with Industry for New Spacewalking, Moonwalking Services". NASA. 1 June 2021. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  55. ^ "NASA selects Axiom Space and Collins Aerospace for spacesuit contracts". SpaceNews. 1 June 2022. Retrieved 14 June 2022.

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