Author Topic: NASA Selects First Commercial Destination Module (Axiom) for ISS  (Read 23333 times)

Offline Chris Bergin

Presser:

NASA has selected Axiom Space of Houston to provide at least one habitable commercial module to be attached to the International Space Station as the agency continues to open the station for commercial use.

“NASA has once again recognized the hard work, talent, and experience of Houstonians as we expand the International Space Station and promote commercial opportunities in space,” said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas. “I’m proud Axiom will continue to build upon Texas’ legacy of leading the nation in human space exploration.”

This selection is a significant step toward enabling the development of independent commercial destinations that meet NASA’s long-terms needs in low-Earth orbit, beyond the life of the space station, and continue to foster the growth of a robust low-Earth orbit economy.

"Today’s announcement is an exciting and welcome step forward in the efforts to commercialize low-Earth orbit,” said Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. “This partnership between NASA and Axiom Space – a Houston, Texas original – illustrates how critically important the International Space Station is, and will continue to be, for developing new technologies for low-Earth orbit and beyond, and for continuing America’s leadership in space. Congratulations to Axiom Space on this exciting award – Houston is known as Space City for a reason, and I look forward to this great Space City company and NASA turning this announcement into reality."

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 economy in which NASA is one of many customers. NASA and Axiom next will begin negotiations on the terms and price of a firm-fixed-price contract with a five-year base performance period and a two-year option

“Congratulations to Axiom Space! This is not only a win for Texas, Johnson Space Center, and the International Space Station, it is also a great step forward for NASA as we move towards an increased commercial presence in low-Earth orbit,” said Rep. Brian Babin of Texas. “I am proud to see this work coming to Space City – Houston, Texas – as the Lone Star State continues to lead in space exploration well into the future.”

Developing commercial destinations in low-Earth orbit is one of five elements of NASA’s plan to open the International Space Station to new commercial and marketing opportunities. The other elements of the five-point plan include efforts to make station and crew resources available for commercial use through a new commercial use and pricing policy; enable private astronaut missions to the station; seek out and pursue opportunities to stimulate long-term, sustainable demand for these services; and quantify NASA’s long-term demand for activities in low-Earth orbit.

“Axiom’s work to develop a commercial destination in space is a critical step for NASA to meet its long-term needs for astronaut training, scientific research, and technology demonstrations in low-Earth orbit,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “We are transforming the way NASA works with industry to benefit the global economy and advance space exploration. It is a similar partnership that this year will return the capability of American astronauts to launch to the space station on American rockets from American soil.”

NASA selected Axiom from proposals submitted in response to a solicitation through Appendix I of NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) 2 Broad Agency Announcement, which offered private industry use of the station utilities and a port to attach one or more commercial elements to the orbiting laboratory.

Because commercial destinations are considered a key element of a robust economy in low-Earth orbit, NASA also plans to issue a final opportunity to partner with the agency in the development of a free-flying, independent commercial destination. Through these combined efforts to develop commercial destinations, NASA is set to meet its long-term needs in low-Earth orbit well beyond the life of the station.

The agency will continue to need low-Earth orbit microgravity research and testing to enable future missions to the Moon and Mars, including the arrival of the first woman and next man on the Moon with the Artemis III mission as part of the agency’s Artemis lunar exploration plans.
« Last Edit: 01/26/2021 01:53 pm by gongora »
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Offline gongora

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The existing discussion thread for Axiom Space can be found here:
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=40601.0
« Last Edit: 01/27/2020 07:16 pm by gongora »

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Wow, so I assume Axiom beat Bigelow - despite Bigelow already having BEAM on the ISS. The bid evaluations will make interesting reading ...

Offline Tulse

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There doesn't seem to be any basic info on the actual module, such as size, volume, capabilities, or potential launch vehicle.

Offline rockets4life97

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Wow, so I assume Axiom beat Bigelow - despite Bigelow already having BEAM on the ISS. The bid evaluations will make interesting reading ...

From what I remember from previous Axiom discussions, they have said their module would have a port that would allow another element to attach to it. This other port could be used for Bigelow or another company demonstration (Nanoracks, space manufacturing, etc.).

Offline Almurray1958

"The element will attach to the space station’s Node 2 forward port"

Isn't this one of the docking ports for commercial craft?   Node 3 forward has the PMM.   
Could they mean Node 2 nadir?
« Last Edit: 01/27/2020 07:48 pm by Almurray1958 »
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Offline brickmack

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No, its node 2 forward. The PMA/IDA stack on that port would be either relocated to another port (probably on the new module). Assuming the Axiom Core Module's design hasn't changed from the last renders, this will add one IDS port on the end, and 4 radial CBMs for future modules or visiting cargo vehicles

Offline GWH

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Offline whitelancer64

"The element will attach to the space station’s Node 2 forward port"

Isn't this one of the docking ports for commercial craft?   Node 3 forward has the PMM.   
Could they mean Node 2 nadir?

One of NASA's requirements for any new commercial modules is that ISS functionality in terms of docking / berthing ports must remain the same, or better. So if a commercial module is attached on a docking port, then it must also have at least one docking port, so that there will still be at least two crew docking ports available on the ISS.
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Offline Rik ISS-fan

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In my opinion it would be most practical if the new module would replace both a PMA and IDA.
For this to work, the Axiom module should have a passive CBM (Common Berthing Mechanism) on one side, and an IDSS (International Docking System Standard) port on the other side.
The advantage of this, is that the module becomes a full part, with the same accessibility as the other modules of the US part, of the ISS.
But how can the PMA+IDA be disposed off? Possibly this can be done with a Dragon2 cargo resupply return.

During the latest ISS tour the ISS looks overfilled with stowage. On the US side at least three ports have to be made free from stowage. Namely:
- Node 2 Forward for PMA2/IDA2 accessibility for Crew resupply vehicle or Dragon2 cargo.
- Node 2 Zenith for PMA3/IDA3 accessibility for Crew resupply vehicle or Dragon2 cargo.
- Node 3 Port for Nanoracks Bishop Airlock (SpX-21)
Two further ports need to be free when resupply vehicles visit:
- Node 2 Nadir, std berthing location for Dragon and HTV-(X)
- Node 1 Nadir, std berthing location for Cygnus.
Another possibility with the axiom module having two ports is that it can convert Node1 Nadir from an CBM into an IDSS compliant docking port while also providing additional stowage space.
Time will tell if most US cargo vehicles will convert to using IDSS or remain using CBM.

edit. I looked closer at the images from Axiom. It looks like the modules will have two CBM ports.
to provide a IDSS port they look like using Common Docking Adapter (CDA). [wiki]

Axiom Image is the second attached, not embedded, image file:

These modules look larger than Columbus. I wonder if the US Airlock might need replacement as well?

edit zubenelgenubi
« Last Edit: 01/28/2020 12:52 am by zubenelgenubi »

Offline whitelancer64

In my opinion it would be most practical if the new module would replace both a PMA and IDA.
For this to work, the Axiom module should have a passive CBM (Common Berthing Mechanism) on one side, and an IDSS (International Docking System Standard) port on the other side.
The advantage of this, is that the module becomes a full part, with the same accessibility as the other modules of the US part, of the ISS.
But how can the PMA+IDA be disposed off? Possibly this can be done with a Dragon2 cargo resupply return.

During the latest ISS tour the ISS looks overfilled with stowage. On the US side at least three ports have to be made free from stowage. Namely:
- Node 2 Forward for PMA2/IDA2 accessibility for Crew resupply vehicle or Dragon2 cargo.
- Node 2 Zenith for PMA3/IDA3 accessibility for Crew resupply vehicle or Dragon2 cargo.
- Node 3 Port for Nanoracks Bishop Airlock (SpX-21)
Two further ports need to be free when resupply vehicles visit:
- Node 2 Nadir, std berthing location for Dragon and HTV-(X)
- Node 1 Nadir, std berthing location for Cygnus.
Another possibility with the axiom module having two ports is that it can convert Node1 Nadir from an CBM into an IDSS compliant docking port while also providing additional stowage space.
Time will tell if most US cargo vehicles will convert to using IDSS or remain using CBM.

edit. I looked closer at the images from Axiom. It looks like the modules will have two CBM ports.
to provide a IDSS port they look like using Common Docking Adapter (CDA). [wiki]
*snip image*
Axiom Image:
*snip image*
These modules look larger than Columbus. I wonder if the US Airlock might need replacement as well?



The PMA / IDA could be relocated elsewhere on the ISS (or onto the new module), that would mean the ISS would still have 2 (or 3, if the module also has one built in) docking ports.
« Last Edit: 01/27/2020 11:20 pm by whitelancer64 »
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Offline yg1968

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Wow, so I assume Axiom beat Bigelow - despite Bigelow already having BEAM on the ISS. The bid evaluations will make interesting reading ...

Bigelow could still win the Free-Flyer proposal under NexStep, Appendix K:

Quote from: NASA
6.  Question [related to the Free-Flyer under Appendix K]:  The stated budget is $561M through 2024 to cover Appendix I & K.  How will that be adjudicated?

Answer:  The funding for Appendix I & K is part of the overall funding for Commercial LEO Development.  The Agency will make a portfolio decision sometime in the future.  The $561M is an estimate of available funds based on the runout of the FY 2020 budget request through 2024, but should not be treated as an absolute constraint.  Offerors should propose what they feel is required to close their business case.

https://www.nasa.gov/nextstep/freeflyer
« Last Edit: 01/27/2020 11:38 pm by yg1968 »

Offline russianhalo117

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In my opinion it would be most practical if the new module would replace both a PMA and IDA.
For this to work, the Axiom module should have a passive CBM (Common Berthing Mechanism) on one side, and an IDSS (International Docking System Standard) port on the other side.
The advantage of this, is that the module becomes a full part, with the same accessibility as the other modules of the US part, of the ISS.
But how can the PMA+IDA be disposed off? Possibly this can be done with a Dragon2 cargo resupply return.

During the latest ISS tour the ISS looks overfilled with stowage. On the US side at least three ports have to be made free from stowage. Namely:
- Node 2 Forward for PMA2/IDA2 accessibility for Crew resupply vehicle or Dragon2 cargo.
- Node 2 Zenith for PMA3/IDA3 accessibility for Crew resupply vehicle or Dragon2 cargo.
- Node 3 Port for Nanoracks Bishop Airlock (SpX-21)
Two further ports need to be free when resupply vehicles visit:
- Node 2 Nadir, std berthing location for Dragon and HTV-(X)
- Node 1 Nadir, std berthing location for Cygnus.
Another possibility with the axiom module having two ports is that it can convert Node1 Nadir from an CBM into an IDSS compliant docking port while also providing additional stowage space.
Time will tell if most US cargo vehicles will convert to using IDSS or remain using CBM.

edit. I looked closer at the images from Axiom. It looks like the modules will have two CBM ports.
to provide a IDSS port they look like using Common Docking Adapter (CDA). [wiki]
<snip image>
Axiom Image:
<snip image>
These modules look larger than Columbus. I wonder if the US Airlock might need replacement as well?

1 PMA/IDA could via RVA or EVA be stowed on the Z1 MBM (Manual Berrhing Mechanism). Keep alive power is available via Z1 at the MBM via jumpers as was used during the Z1/PMA-3 launch. That is one way to long term temp stow it.
« Last Edit: 01/28/2020 12:53 am by zubenelgenubi »

Offline Chris Bergin

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Offline DwightM

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Excellent article Mr. Corbett!  Maybe the Hab module will come with its own ECLSS - and another spare as well.  After reading 'Endurance' by Scott Kelly it seems like another would be a great idea, even after a new one was recently installed.

Offline ncb1397

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Quote
The last large rigid module to be delivered to the US Segment was The Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM), which was delivered in February 2011 onboard Shuttle Discovery on STS-133. Since the shuttle has now been retired, the modules that make up the Axiom segment will most likely be launched on conventional rockets, and make their way to the station and then dock either under their own power or via a “space tug”, much like how the Russian’s have delivered module’s to the ISS or their previous station “Mir” in the past.

This is quite different from how the rest of the US Segment was assembled, with module’s launching in the shuttle payload bay, then being carefully taken out of the payload bay and being moved into place by the shuttle’s robotic arm or the space station’s robotic arm.

Is docking to a CBM really an option? I would assume that the modules would fly to a location where the arm can grapple and the arm would move it to the port (essentially the same thing that is done with dragon and cygnus cargo flights just with a bulkier object).
« Last Edit: 01/28/2020 06:46 am by ncb1397 »

Offline Rocket Science

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Isn't the plan still to splash ISS in a few years? ???
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
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Quote
The last large rigid module to be delivered to the US Segment was The Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM), which was delivered in February 2011 onboard Shuttle Discovery on STS-133. Since the shuttle has now been retired, the modules that make up the Axiom segment will most likely be launched on conventional rockets, and make their way to the station and then dock either under their own power or via a “space tug”, much like how the Russian’s have delivered module’s to the ISS or their previous station “Mir” in the past.

This is quite different from how the rest of the US Segment was assembled, with module’s launching in the shuttle payload bay, then being carefully taken out of the payload bay and being moved into place by the shuttle’s robotic arm or the space station’s robotic arm.

Is docking to a CBM really an option? I would assume that the modules would fly to a location where the arm can grapple and the arm would move it to the port (essentially the same thing that is done with dragon and cygnus cargo flights just with a bulkier object).

Correct, that's actually exactly what Axiom has shown in assembly video they released a while back.

Offline whitelancer64

Isn't the plan still to splash ISS in a few years? ???

In 2028, currently. It may be extended to 2030.

Axiom's modules are designed to be separated at ISS end of life and operate as an independent commercial space station.
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
"There are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules." - Larry J

Offline Rocket Science

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Isn't the plan still to splash ISS in a few years? ???

In 2028, currently. It may be extended to 2030.

Axiom's modules are designed to be separated at ISS end of life and operate as an independent commercial space station.
Thanks, last I recalled reading was 2026, but the longer it stays up the better as the only "real" destination for spacecraft with much still to be learned on orbit...
« Last Edit: 01/28/2020 04:27 pm by Rocket Science »
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
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