Thales Alenia Space, Joint Venture between Thales (67 %) and Leonardo (33 %) announced the signature of an ATP (Authorization To Proceed) with Axiom Space of Houston, Texas to initiate the development of two key pressurized 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.
“The legacy of the International Space Station structure is one of safety and reliability despite huge technical complexity,” said Axiom Space CEO Michael Suffredini, formerly NASA’s ISS Program Manager from 2005 to 2015. “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.”
Thales Alenia Space has supplied a significant part of the pressurized elements of the International Space Station, including state-of-the-art components such as Node 2, Node 3, Columbus (pressurized part) – European Laboratory, Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM), the Permanent Logistic Module (PPM) and Cupola, as well as the ATV and Cygnus cargo modules.
This announcement was made on 24 June 2020 by the Thales Group.