Axiom Space

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Axiom Space, Inc.
TypePrivate incorporated company
IndustryAerospace industry
Founded2016
FounderMichael Suffredini
Kam Ghaffarian[1]
Headquarters
Key people
Services
Number of employees
130 (2021)
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 is planning commercial missions in 2022 to the International Space Station (ISS) and aims to own and operate the world's first commercial space station.[3] The company's leadership team is largely composed of former NASA employees, including former NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.[4] Other key people at the company include astronauts Michael Lopez-Alegria and Brent W. Jett Jr.[5]

The company's planned commercial activities include human spaceflight for space tourists, as well as government-funded and commercial astronauts engaging in in-space research, in-space manufacturing, and space exploration.[6]

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.[7] 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.[8]

The company was selected by NASA to provide the first commercial destination module on the International Space Station.[9] Axiom also announced[when?] a contract with SpaceX to fly commercial astronauts to the International Space Station via Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon scheduled for January 2022.[10]

The company had 110 employees as of February 2021,[11] 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.[9] Axiom was the only selected proposal from the solicitation process due in 2019.[12] Bigelow Aerospace did not submit a proposal and has subsequently ceased operations.[13]

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.[14]

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.[15] Axiom renderings from 2020 illustrate how modules might attach to the ISS and be relocated by the Mobile Servicing System, specifically the Canadarm2.[16] The company targets the mid-2020s for its first module to attach to the ISS and the late-2020s for station completion.

Upon the retirement of ISS, Axiom has said in 2020 that they would hope to separate Axiom Station from the ISS and add a power and thermal module with an airlock.[17] Axiom plans to conduct astronaut training for commercial astronauts, to host governments and commercial partners, as well as private astronauts. Up to three Axiom modules could attach to the International Space Station. The first module could be launched as soon as 2024, potentially docking 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.[18] 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.[19] The includes amenities like high-speed Wi-Fi, video screens, picture windows, and a glass-walled cupola.[20]

Human spaceflight[edit]

Axiom plans to provide human spaceflight services to individuals, corporations, and space agencies. Missions to the International Space Station are offered by Axiom, with a 10-day mission including 15 weeks of training.[21] 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.[22] Missions could extend for longer periods of time depending on the focus of the spaceflight.

In June 2020, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine mentioned on a podcast that Axiom was involved with the filming of a Tom Cruise movie to the ISS[23] with SpaceX expected to be the transportation partner for the flights.[24]

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]

Illustration of SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft approaching the ISS.

In early June 2021, Axiom announced a deal with SpaceX which added three additional manned flights to the ISS,[when?] for a total of four.[25]

Ax-1[edit]

Axiom Mission 1 (or Ax-1)[26] is a planned SpaceX Crew Dragon mission to the International Space Station (ISS), operated by SpaceX on behalf of Axiom Space. The flight will launch in January 2022 and send four people to the ISS for an eight-day stay:[26][27] Michael López-Alegría[28] a professionally trained astronaut hired by Axiom Space, Eytan Stibbe[29] for Israel,[30] Larry Connor from the United States[30] and Mark Pathy from Canada.[30]

Ax-2[edit]

Ax-2 is a planned Crew Dragon commercial mission to the ISS. The flight is slated to launch in fall 2022 and send four people to the ISS.[31][32][33] One crew member is to be chosen through the Discovery Channel reality television series Who Wants to Be an Astronaut.[34] On 25 May 2021, it was announced that former NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson would be the mission commander and John Shoffner would be the mission pilot.[32]

Ax-3[edit]

Ax-3 is a planned Crew Dragon commercial mission to the ISS. The flight will launch no earlier than 2023 and carry four people to the ISS.[31][33]

Ax-4[edit]

Ax-4 is a planned Crew Dragon commercial 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.[31][33]

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 130m". GeekWire. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  3. ^ Wall, Mike. "Want to Take a 10-Day Trip to the Space Station? It'll Cost You US$55 Million". Space.com. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  4. ^ Mack, Eric. "NASA will attach a private room to rent on the International Space Station". CNET. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  5. ^ "Rising Star - Axiom Space". SpaceFund. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  6. ^ Mack, Eric. "On NASA's 60th birthday, it's reinventing itself for the SpaceX era". CNET. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  7. ^ Reichhardt, Troy. "This Group of NASA Veterans Wants to Build Their Own Space Station". airspacemag.com. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  8. ^ Wilkers, Ross. "In SGT deal, KBR further transforms its government services business". Washington Technology. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  9. ^ a b Northon, Karen. "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.
  10. ^ Stephen Clark (5 March 2020). "Axiom strikes deal with SpaceX to ferry private astronauts to space station". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  11. ^ Sheetz, Michael (16 February 2021). "Private spaceflight specialist Axiom Space raises $130 million to become the latest space unicorn". CNBC. Retrieved 21 June 2021.
  12. ^ "NextSTEP J - Opportunities to Stimulate Demand in Low Earth Orbit through Applied Research". nasa.gov. NASA. Retrieved 12 June 2020. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  13. ^ Foust, Jeff. "Bigelow Aerospace lays off entire workforce". SpaceNews. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  14. ^ Foust, Jeff (28 January 2020). "NASA selects Axiom Space to build commercial space station module". SpaceNews. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  15. ^ Etherington, Darrell. "NASA taps startup Axiom Space for the first habitable commercial module for the Space Station". TechCrunch. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  16. ^ "Assembly Sequence: Watch the Axiom Segment of the ISS constructed module-by-module". Axiom Space. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  17. ^ "Axiom Space - Axiom Commercial Space Station". Axiom Space. Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  18. ^ "French designer creates womblike habitat for space tourists". NBC News. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  19. ^ Colangelo, Anthony. "Episode T+147: Mike Suffredini, President & CEO of Axiom". mainenginecutoff.com. Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  20. ^ Corbett, Tobias (27 January 2020). "NASA selects Axiom Space to build commercial space station segment". NASASpaceflight.com.
  21. ^ Sheetz, Michael. "SpaceX signs deal to fly 3 space tourists to the International Space Station late next year". CNBC. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  22. ^ Boyle, Alan. "Axiom Space makes deal with SpaceX to send customers to space station next year". GeekWire. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  23. ^ "Origins: Jim Bridenstine". offnominal.space. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  24. ^ Sheetz, Michael. "NASA is working with Tom Cruise to film a movie in space". CNBC. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  25. ^ Sheetz, Michael (2 June 2021). "Axiom Space expands SpaceX private crew launch deal, with four total missions to the space station". CNBC. Retrieved 3 June 2021.
  26. ^ a b "NASA, Axiom Agree to First Private Astronaut Mission on Space Station". NASA. 10 May 2021. Retrieved 10 May 2021. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  27. ^ "NASA, Axiom to talk private mission to International Space Station". SPACE.com. 10 May 2021. Retrieved 10 May 2021.
  28. ^ Irene Klotz [@Free_Space] (18 September 2020). "Space Hero mission is about 4th on @Axiom_Space manifest, Mike Suffredini tells @AviationWeek. First up in October '21 is flight of 3 private individuals and former @NASA_Astronauts Mike Lopez-Algeria" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  29. ^ "Israel's second astronaut to blast off to space in 2021". 16 November 2020.
  30. ^ a b c Robert Z. Pearlman (26 January 2021). "Axiom Space Names First Private Crew to Visit Space Station". Scientific American. Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  31. ^ a b c Clark, Stephen (23 September 2020). "Axiom finalizing agreements for private astronaut mission to space station". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 29 September 2020.
  32. ^ a b Harwood, William (25 May 2021). "Whitson to command planned commercial flight to space station". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  33. ^ a b c "Axiom Space signs blockbuster deal with SpaceX through 2023 to fly three additional Axiom private crew missions to ISS". Axiom Space (Press release). 2 June 2021. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  34. ^ Etherington, Darrell (18 May 2021). "Discovery's new reality show 'Who Wants to Be an Astronaut?' will pick one winner to go to space". TechCrunch. Retrieved 18 May 2021.

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