Thales Alenia Space, the joint Venture between Thales (67 %) and Leonardo (33 %) has announced the signature of an ATP (Authorization To Proceed) with Axiom Space of Houston, Texas to initiate the development of two pressurized modules which will eventually form part of the world’s first commercial space station after initially being fitted to the International Space Station (ISS). The two elements are called Axiom Node One (AxN1) and Habitation Module (AxH).

Axiom’s design for a spun-off stand-alone space station. Courtesy: Axiom

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.

The International Space Station (ISS). Courtesy: NASA

Axiom is initially 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 for its stand-alone space station.