Former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson announced that the first module of the Axiom Station, HAB1, is currently scheduled to launch in 2026. Axiom Station will be the world’s first commercial space station.

On her Facebook account, Whitson announced:

“Many years ago I had the pleasure of being part of the [International] Space Station assembly, so naturally, I’m thrilled to be part of the Axiom Station team as well. The current station has provided the foundation and knowledge of how to change and optimize our new space station. The science geek in me is particularly excited about all of the possibilities for advanced biomanufacturing, medical technologies, and continued research. The first module of the Axiom Station, HAB1, is currently scheduled to launch in 2026!”

Whitson is the Director of Human Space Flight for Axiom Space. In January 2021 it was announced that she is back-up commander of Axiom Mission 1, raising the possibility that she could fly a later Axiom Space mission.
Commander of Axiom Mission 2.

In May 2021, Whitson was confirmed as commander of the second Axiom mission Axiom Mission 2.

She is again the backup commander of Axiom Mission 3, opening the way for a future mission.

Axiom Station will be the world’s first commercial space station

The Axiom Space Station, developed by Axiom Space, represents a significant step in the evolution of human spaceflight and the commercialization of space. It’s envisioned as the world’s first commercial space station, aimed at providing human spaceflight services and developing human-rated space infrastructure. Axiom Space is actively involved in missions to the International Space Station (ISS) while preparing for the future Axiom Station, which will serve as the successor to the ISS.

The first module of Axiom Station, dubbed HAB1, will be launched in 2026. The module will be an attachment to the International Space Station (ISS). After several modules are launched, the station will separate from the ISS when the aging space station retires in 2031 and will become the first commercial space station. Axiom Space is under contract with NASA to develop additional modules for Axiom Station.

Axiom Station will be the world's first commercial space station.
Axiom Station will be the world’s first commercial space station.

The Axiom Station is planned to be assembled in orbit, initially attaching to the ISS. Before the ISS’s retirement, Axiom Space intends to detach its modules to form an independent orbiting station. The target for launching the first module to the ISS is late 2026, with completion of the station expected in the late 2020s. This construction approach includes various modules: a node module to act as a connector, a research and manufacturing facility, a crew habitat, and a module with large windows for viewing Earth.

One of the key components of the Axiom Station will be the AxRMF module, designed to exploit the unique microgravity environment for innovative research, product development, process improvement, and manufacturing. Additionally, the AxEO module, an Earth Observatory with glass walls, is scheduled for launch in the late 2020s, offering unprecedented views of our planet.

Axiom Earth Observatory interior
Axiom Station’s Earth Observatory interior (artist conception). Scheduled to be launched in the late 2020s. Image by Axiom Space, Inc. – Axiom Space, Inc., CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

The Power Thermal module (AxPT) will provide power and thermal capacity equivalent to that of the ISS via solar arrays. This module will enable the Axiom Station to support itself independently once it disconnects from the ISS.

Axiom Space has signed a contract with Thales Alenia Space for the manufacturing and testing of the primary structure and the Micrometeoroid & Debris Protection System for the first two modules, AxH1 and AxH2.

In terms of human spaceflight, Axiom Space plans to offer services to individuals, corporations, and space agencies. Their package includes mission planning, hardware development, life support, medical support, crew provisions, hardware and safety certifications, on-orbit operations, and mission management. The company has conducted several missions to the ISS, such as Ax-1, and Ax-2, and has planned missions like Ax-3 and Ax-4.

The interior of the Axiom Station, designed by the famous French industrial architect and designer Philippe Starck in 2018, features a modern and comfortable environment with amenities like high-speed Wi-Fi, video screens, and picture windows.

The first look at the Axiom Space Station’s Earth observatory cupola. This cupola will have the largest windows in space ever where astronauts can gaze at the views of Earth. Human spaceflight reporter Toby Li says “This is as close as you can get to doing an EVA in space.”

Axiom Space’s advancements in commercial space endeavors signify a new era in space exploration and utilization, with a focus on research, manufacturing, and commercial activities in low Earth orbit.

On the Axiom Space’s official website, they say:

“The construction of the world’s first commercial space station and a commercially developed Extravehicular Mobility Unit is underway. Following the completion of preliminary and critical design reviews in collaboration with NASA, our partners at Thales Alenia Space began welding and machining activities for the primary structures of Axiom Station’s first module as subsystem design, integration, and testing are underway in our Houston labs.”

“The Axiom Extravehicular Mobility Unit (AxEMU) spacesuit provides a next-gen spacesuit for the Artemis generation. Integration and design continue towards providing astronauts with advanced capabilities for space exploration in a commercially developed human system needed to access, live, and work in low-Earth orbit, on the Moon, and beyond.”

A technician at the Thales Alenia Space works to install protective covers around open ports of the bulkhead of Hab1 of Axiom Station.
A technician at the Thales Alenia Space works to install protective covers around open ports of the bulkhead of Hab1 of Axiom Station. Image: Axiom Space on Twitter

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M. Özgür Nevres

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