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NASA picks Axiom Space to build first commercial space station module

This module will be used as a destination for future commercial spaceflight missions, potentially housing experiments, technology development and more performed by commercial space travellers

NASA has chosen Houston-based startup Axiom Space, to build the first commercial habitat module for the International Space Station (ISS).

Axiom Space will gain access to a docking port on the station, to which the company will install a commercial module for research and other applications, crew habitat and “large-windowed” module for viewing the Earth.

The agency said that it will begin negotiations on a formal contract with Axiom, with a five-year base period and a two-year option. Axiom expects the first module to be launched in the second half of 2024.

This module will be used as a destination for future commercial spaceflight missions, potentially housing experiments, technology development and more performed by commercial space travellers taking rides up to the ISS via human-rated spacecraft.

Axiom was founded in 2016 by Kam Ghaffarian, who previously led space industry engineering services company Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies, and Michael Suffredini, who was program manager for the ISS at NASA for a decade prior to his retirement in 2015.

NASA did not disclose why it selected Axiom for the module.

NASA had been studying making the docking port, on the station’s Node 2 or Harmony module, available to a commercial module for several years. Last June the agency rolled out its low Earth orbit commercialisation initiative, which offered the docking port through its Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) program.

FURTHER READING: SpaceX completes emergency crew escape test

FURTHER READING: SpaceX to provide internet coverage from space by mid-2020

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