NASA has announced that it has chosen Axiom Space to design, build, and launch a trio of pressurized modules for the ISS and a large Earth observation window. The partnership between NASA and Axiom is part of Appendix I of NASA Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships 2. The agency hopes that the program will stimulate commercial development of deep space exploration capabilities.
The expansion is part of the attempts by NASA to open the ISS to commercial opportunities. Axiom plans to launch three large modules and an Earth observation window. The image above is an artist’s representation of what the modules might look like.
There are no details on the order of the launch at this time, but the assumption is the node module will launch first. The planned launch for the first section is the second half of 2024. The three modules will make up the Axiom Segment and will include a node module, crew habitat, and a research and manufacturing module along with the large window.
Axiom is working with other companies on the project, including Boeing, the company that has made several modules in the US segment of the ISS, including Node 1 and the US lab module. There are few hard details on the deal available now with no specifics on cost or timeline.
Additional details are expected as NASA and Axiom begin negotiations on terms and price of the fixed-price contract with a five-year base performance period and two-year option. The new Axiom modules will be placed on the forward docking port of Node 2, where space shuttles once docked. The PMA-2 hardware will have to be relocated as it currently occupies the port Axiom will use.