NASA’s International Space Station (ISS) could soon have its first independent habitable commercial modules. The US space agency has selected Axiom Space of Houston to build an attached habitable commercial module to facilitate its low-Earth orbit economy on the ISS and open the space station to commercial opportunities.
The space station port and its utilities will be made available for the industry for commercial activities in an effort to benefit the global economy, as per NASA. The habitable commercial module could launch in the second of 2024 and it will be attached to the space station’s Node 2 forward port.
“The element will attach to the space station’s Node 2 forward port to demonstrate its ability to provide products and services and begin the transition to a sustainable low-Earth orbit economy in which NASA is one of many customers,” NASA said in a press release.
An independent and habitable commercial module on ISS will be instrumental in NASA’s long-term low-Earth orbit needs such as astronaut training and technology demonstrations. The move is among five elements that NASA announced to open ISS to commercial business. These include more commercial facilities for research and development, private astronaut missions and more.
NASA will continue its research on low-Earth orbit microgravity as it prepares for the Artemis mission, which plans to send the first woman and the next man to the Moon’s surface by 2024. The ultimate aim with Artemis is to send humans to Mars and this is likely to take place in mid-2030s.
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