All Images Source: Axiom Space
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA, selected Houston-based Axiom Space to build the first "commercial launch destination" - basically a space hotel for the wealthy - that will be connected to the International Space Station (ISS). This is all part of NASA's Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) initiative, which aims to commercialize space in order to support American-made innovation in the space sector to fulfill their long-term plan to help develop commercial destinations in low-Earth orbit (LEO). In the future, space will have many space hotels by different companies that will enable humans to experience space as well as conduct research. "NASA has once again recognized the hard work, talent, and experience of Houstonians as we expand the International Space Station and promote commercial opportunities in space,” said Senator John Cornyn of Texas. “I’m proud Axiom will continue to build upon Texas’ legacy of leading the nation in human space exploration.” Then Senator of Texas Ted Cruz added, "Today’s announcement is an exciting and welcome step forward in the efforts to commercialize low-Earth orbit. This partnership between NASA and Axiom Space – a Houston, Texas original – illustrates how critically important the International Space Station is, and will continue to be, for developing new technologies for low-Earth orbit and beyond, and for continuing America’s leadership in space. Congratulations to Axiom Space on this exciting award – Houston is known as Space City for a reason, and I look forward to this great Space City company and NASA turning this announcement into reality."
Axiom will begin by adding one module to the station to eventually build a larger structure. One day, the International Space Station will be retired, NASA wants to make sure humans continue innovation to maintain a permanent presence in space around our planet. Axiom's 'hotel' module is planned to be launched in the year 2024, it will attach to the space stations Node-2 Forward Port, the module could ultimately serve as ISS' replacement in the future. The CEO of Axiom, Mike Suffredini, said:
"When ISS is retired, Axiom Station will complete construction and detach to operate into the future as a free-flying complex for living and working in space – marking humankind’s next stage of LEO settlement."
The hotel module is an 'egg-like' shape, the company describes the design as a zero gravity-friendly "nest-like cabin" featuring large windows with beautiful "unobstructed views of Earth" and "high-bandwidth communications back to home." So, the space hotel module at the space station will feature a large screen that will use internet connectivity to communicate with loved ones back on Earth.
It would be so amazing to embark on a space voyage plus stay at a hotel at the space station to experience zero gravity and see Earth in it's full glory and magnificent beauty - unfortunately the price of a 10 day stay at Axiom's space hotel module will be so astronomically expensive. The price of booking a flight to Axiom's space hotel is $55 million, includes the cost of on-the-ground astronaut training course which costs $1 million. The price also covers the rocket flight expense to space and back to Earth. Therefore, realistically the space hotel would likely be used by only super wealthy individuals, also by manufacturers who aim to test new technology for space exploration, or by companies who need to conduct scientific experiments in space conditions.
Axiom CEO Mike Suffredini stated, "We appreciate the bold decision on the part of NASA to open up a commercial future in Low Earth Orbit. This selection is a recognition of the uniquely qualified nature of the Axiom team and our commercial plan to create and support a thriving, sustainable, and American-led LEO (Low Earth Orbit) ecosystem. Axiom exists to provide the infrastructure in space for a variety of users to conduct research, discover new technologies, test systems for exploration of the Moon and Mars, manufacture superior products for use in orbit and on the ground, and ultimately improve life back on Earth. As we build on the legacy and foundation established by the ISS Program, we look forward to working with NASA and the ecosystem of current and future international partners on this seminal effort." Axios will definitely pave the way towards space commercialization. Humanity's future in space will be exciting!