This may be the first private station in space | Science

This may be the first private station in space |  Science

There are now fourteen people in space: eleven aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and three more aboard China’s Tiangong. The four who make up the Axiom Mission will return to Earth in a few days, leaving their comrades on long-term missions.

The last flight contracted by Axiom Space was presented as just another whim of multimillionaire adventurers. Indeed, it is part of an ambitious project that should culminate in a few years with the first private space station.

Axiom’s first launch to build its own space pocket will be a module to be attached to the front hatch of the International Space Station, between European and Japanese laboratories. It has the shape of a metal cylinder which in turn includes several docking ports where other components will be added in the future. The expected release date is 2024.

This first element includes a small panoramic room, which will be installed in the gutter, that is, on the side always facing the ground. ISS already has a point – the dome, Italian Made – Where astronauts spend most of their free time, watching a parade of landscapes below. But the thing Axiom is planning is much bigger, with windows about two meters long and hardly any windows to obstruct the view. It is an option clearly intended to attract future paying visitors. The truth is that whether we like it or not, this type of tourism exists and will become even more important in the coming years.

Interior design of one of the cabins of a futuristic Axiom Orbital Laboratory.

In 2025, the room module will be sent into space, which will increase the capacity of the complex to eight people. Its design, entrusted to the studio of Philippe Starck (yes, the same author of the lemon squeezer displayed in the Museum of Modern Art) is very reminiscent of motifs 2001: space flight. Each visitor has their own cabin, with a window overlooking the space, a reading light, and an iPad that functions as a small flat-screen TV.

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The next two components are planned for 2026 and 2027. They are a laboratory equipped to conduct industrial testing in microgravity and a support tower for photovoltaic panels to generate electricity. There is even talk of a small TV studio where entertainment programs can be produced. award reality show call spacehero It is, specifically, a trip to the orbital part of Axiom.

For the first few years, the Axiom equipment will be powered by power generated by the International Space Station itself. The installation of the photovoltaic cell tower will give it complete autonomy in terms of communication services, life support, stability, docking of supply ships…

By that time, some parts of the International Space Station will be more than thirty years old. It is possible that Russia has withdrawn from the project, which may present some difficulties because some of the important systems (thrust and stability, for example) are located in the Russian parts.

Image provided by Axiom Space showing the crew of the Axiom 1 (X-1) mission: left to right, Larry Connor, Mark Bathy, Commander Miguel Lopez Alegria, and Eitan Stipe.
Image provided by Axiom Space showing the crew of the Axiom 1 (X-1) mission: left to right, Larry Connor, Mark Bathy, Commander Miguel Lopez Alegria, and Eitan Stipe.Chris Gunn Axiom Space (Axiom Space EFE)

It is not clear what will happen to the International Space Station. Perhaps it will remain in service for a few more years or, depending on its condition, it may be decided to de-orbit it by making it fall into the Pacific Ocean. But by that time, the private station will no longer need your services. It will be enough to unhook the rest and allow him to follow his own path through space. That’s, at least, Axiom Space’s plan. And it appears to be a solid plan: many of its directors and advisors not only come from NASA (such as Michael Diaz-Alegria himself, the mission leader) but were involved in the original design of the International Space Station.

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Since the 1950s, there have been as many or fewer fanciful projects to create orbital stations. The difference is that this time it is already being built. The first contract was awarded to Thales-Alenia, a Franco-Italian company that has already manufactured several modules for the International Space Station, as well as communications satellites and resupply vehicles for the space station.

The first elements of the unit will likely be launched using Space X’s Falcon rockets. Some may be very large or heavy, in which case Ariane, Heavy Falcons, or even Space X’s that have not yet been tested could be used. Elon Musk.

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