Ax­iom Space Sta�on

The Ax­iom could be the rst com­mer­cial sta­tion in space.

HWM (Singapore) - - CONTENTS - By Alvin Soon

There has never been a pri­vately held space sta­tion in hu­man his­tory. The In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion (ISS), the Chi­nese Tian­gong, and the Rus­sian Mir have all been na­tion-state projects. US-based Ax­iom Space plans to be the rst com­pany to launch a space sta­tion, named the Ax­iom, into Earth or­bit.

Ax­iom Space plans to as­sem­ble the Ax­iom Space Sta­tion in stages. Ax­iom Space will rst launch mod­ules to con­nect to the ISS. This is ex­pected to start in 2020, with more mod­ules added through to 2024. When the ISS is de­com­mis­sioned in 2024, the Ax­iom

sta­tion will sep­a­rate and sail in low Earth or­bit.

Be­cause it’s a busi­ness, the sta­tion has to make money. Ax­iom Space plans to start a man­u­fac­tur­ing busi­ness on the Ax­iom, which in­cludes mak­ing small satel­lites. These can be de­ployed from the sta­tion, at a frac­tion of the cost of launch­ing them from Earth.

And be­cause it’s pri­vately held, Ax­iom Space can do things a lit­tle dif­fer­ently. It re­cently re­leased, for ex­am­ple, de­tails on a va­ca­tion pack­age. Gilded ad­ven­tur­ers can pay to glide into space and spend 10 days aboard the ISS. They’ll stay in an Ax­iom Space habi­ta­tion mod­ule de­signed by Philippe Starck and ex­pe­ri­ence space in Mon­cler ight suits. The rst ights are ex­pected to start in 2022. They will cost US$55 mil­lion per pas­sen­ger.

It all sounds very much like sci­ence ction, and it doesn’t help that the AAx­iomiom shares the same name as the space barge in the an­i­mate­d­i­mated movie, Wall-E. Ax­iom Space’s pres­i­dent and CEO Michael Suf­fre­dini, how­ever, man­aged NASA’s ISS pro­gram for a decade. Its chair­man Kam Ghaf­far­ian was a NASA con­trac­tor that op­er­ated the ISS. That lends some cred­i­bil­ity to this wildly am­bi­tious en­ter­prise.

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