Axiom - The World's First Private Space Station?
A private space station? This is the dream of Axiom Space, led by Mike Suffredini, who managed NASA's ISS program for 10 years, and Kam Ghaffarian, the CEO of SGT, a major NASA contractor responsible for ISS operations and astronaut training.
(Axiom Space concept for a private space station)
Axiom plans to build the core of its space station at the ISS before the international laboratory retires, which is currently scheduled for 2024 but could be delayed until 2028. When the ISS finally calls it quits, Axiom's station will detach and become a fully independent commercial complex.
The company's first module, called the "Multi-Purpose Module," or simply, Module 1, would launch in late 2020. The current plan is to heave it into space all in one shot, providing Axiom can find the right rocket; at about 9 meters long and 5 meters wide, Module 1 will be a huge payload. (An alternative concept is launching the module in pieces and assembling it in space.)
Module 1 has its own propulsion system, meaning it will fly to the ISS under its own power after being dropped off in orbit. Axiom is currently proposing NASA connect the module to the forward-most port of the ISS, where a new mating adapter was recently installed to accommodate commercial crew vehicles. That mating adapter could then be moved to Module 1 and still be used for U.S. crew vehicle access.
As far as I know, the first reference to a privately owned and operated space station is the space laboratory from Crystalized Thought (1937) by scientifiction great Nat Schachner:
So Webb Foster had built his space laboratory. It took five years and the unremitting labor of a thousand men. But when it was finished, the planets marveled, and his fellow scientists ached with possessive longing.
It was a great crystal sphere, a thousand feet in diameter. The material was plani-glass, a transparent composition of Webb's invention. Its tensile strength was that of fine-wrought steel, but its lightness greater than that of aluminium. In its normal state it transmitted all the beating waves of space without let or hindrance; when polarized, however, only the wave lengths of light could slide along the latticed crystals. Neither electricity, magnetism, X rays nor cosmic rays could force their lethal energies through the impenetrable barrier. A special repulsor screen, such as the space ships used, diverted plunging meteors from their destructive paths...
(Read more about the space laboratory)
Fans of the (then young) Robert Heinlein recall with relish the privately owned Wheelchair space station from his 1942 novella Waldo.
Read much more at Planetary.
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