Thales Alenia Space has announced the signature of an ATP (Authorization To Proceed) with Axiom Space of Houston, Texas to initiate the development of two key pressurised elements dedicated to the world’s first commercial space station.
In January, NASA selected Axiom’s proposal to attach its space station modules to the International Space Station (ISS) starting from the second half of 2024, ultimately creating a new ‘Axiom Segment’ which will expand the usable and habitable volume of the ISS. When the ISS reaches its retirement date, the Axiom complex will detach and operate as a free-flying commercial space station. The Axiom Segment will be attached to the ISS Node 2 built by Thales Alenia Space.
Axiom is offering professional and private astronaut flights to the ISS at a rate of up to two per year, with the first set to launch in October 2021, while it develops the new station elements.
Based on its past successful experience building modules for the International Space Station, Thales Alenia Space will be responsible for the design, development, assembly and test of the primary structure and the Micrometeoroid & Debris Protection System for the Axiom Node One (AxN1) and Habitation Module (AxH), the first two Axiom station elements to fly. Axiom will receive these elements at their facility in Houston for integration and outfitting of core systems and certification of flight prior to shipping to the launch facility.
Walter Cugno, Thales Alenia Space Vice President, Science and Exploration commented: “Thales Alenia Space is an essential partner for all human and deep space exploration missions. I am confident this partnership with Axiom will open new horizons by revolutionising the human presence in low-Earth orbit.”
Massimo Comparini, Thales Alenia Space Senior Executive Vice President Observation Exploration & Navigation business line added:”This mission is an important step toward enabling the development of independent commercial destinations, and fostering the growth of a strong and competitive low-Earth orbit economy. The synergy with the entire space ecosystem, from Governmental institutions and international Agencies, to private companies, positions Thales Alenia Space at the very core of the industry, and together with our partner Axiom we are happy to partake in this new enterprise of building the new sustainable low-Earth Orbit market based on commercial space destinations.”
Axiom Space CEO Michael Suffredini, formerly NASA’s ISS Program Manager from 2005 to 2015 noted: “The legacy of the International Space Station structure is one of safety and reliability despite huge technical complexity. We are thrilled to combine Axiom’s human spaceflight expertise with Thales Alenia Space’s experience to build the next stage of human settlement in Low Earth Orbit from a foundation that is tried and tested. The first two modules of the Axiom Commercial Space Station will serve as the wellspring of a thriving commercial future in space.”