End of the ISS: NASA turns to the private sector

The International Space Station should be abandoned at the end of the decade. As part of this, NASA hopes to attract various private investors to maintain a permanent presence in Earth orbit.

If the life of the ISS has been extended until 2030, NASA is beginning to prepare its succession. If in the meantime the orbital laboratory is not idle, various companies are seeking to invest in the field. One company even wants to create a film studio in orbit. The American space agency therefore wants to support the conversion of the station, and even requires that a professional astronaut accompany each mission in the private sector.

Private station project - Credit: Axiom Space
Private station project – Credit: Axiom Space

Space industry leaders gathered in Washington last week for NASA’s 11th annual conference. The panel also included high-level representatives from four companies selected by NASA to design and develop commercial space stations in low Earth orbit.

End of the ISS: many companies interested

NASA places a lot of hope in this new approach. The agency states:Our main objective is to have a post-ISS platform that can meet our needs, but that allows us to put ourselves in a position where business innovation can occur. Different things can start happening in space that would not occur on a government facility“.

In January 2020, NASA selected Axiom Space to build the first commercial ISS module. In December 2021, the agency selected three other companies: Nanoracks, Northrop Grumman et Blue Origin, which has partnered with Sierra Space. Christian Maender, vice president of Axiom, said that the company’s first module is on track for delivery to the ISS in 2024the second to be implemented in 2025.

The manager says:At Axiom, we build what we think we are fundamental infrastructure for this low earth orbit marketing effort“. Axiom’s plan is to gradually add modules at a rate of approximately one per year. The first two will function as habitats, while the later ones will have a scientific purpose.

Source : engadget

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