KEY POINTS

  • NASA has chosen Axiom space capsule for commercial missions
  • Axiom will connect to Node 2 of the ISS
  • Commercial trips to ISS are expected to start next year

Space tourism is slowly becoming a reality and NASA doesn’t want to stay far behind companies such as Virgin Galactic and SpaceX. NASA is not just onboard the concept but is now actively competing for the privatization of space.

The space agency has chosen private American space station manufacturer Axiom Space to create and supply its first commercial module, which will be sent to the international space station.

Axiom will create a habitable commercial module that will connect to the Node 2 forward port of the International Space Station (ISS). The module will be used for space tourism and other space journeys.

“Many of those who travel to space recount undergoing a fundamental cognitive shift. Viewing our home planet from the grander vantage point of the cosmos within which it is suspended, protected by a thin and wispy atmosphere, effects a transcendent experience that has been termed ‘the Overview Effect.’ Astronauts return from space changed, with a renewed perspective on humanity that remains with them the rest of their lives. The trip awakens something that feels primordial and eternal,” Axiom stated on its website.

Axiom won the bid to create the capsule after a competition that offered private manufacturers of space components access to the ISS, to develop private facilities of their own. The company is in talks with NASA for signing in a five-year “base performance” period, along with a two-year option.

While the company is yet to reveal any details about its missions, its stated goal is to begin spaceflights by next year.

ISS, which has been a collaboration between largely the Russians and Americans may slowly become privatized by 2024 if everything goes according to plan.

The old days, when it was only used for space research may soon be history. The ISS may soon turn into a space hotel, with NASA hosting space travelers.