Axiom Space has announced that it is building an office park and manufacturing center in the Houston spaceport at Ellington Field.
The development is an indication of an expectation that a commercial replacement may well be in place for the International Space Station (ISS), despite being dragged on by Congress. The United States has a chance to avoid a “space gap” when the ISS approaches the end of its operational life, such as occurred between the end of the space shuttle program and the first launch of the SpaceX commercial crew Dragon mission.
When Jim bridensteinJames (Jim) Friedrich Bridensteinnassa-Canadian agreement reveals how Artemis is an international moon NASA selects the next Artemis Moonwalkers, while SpaceX first flew a starship to break the sound barrier, Chuck Yeager at 97 MORE dies One of them became NASA’s administrator, a question about what to do about maintaining a presence in low Earth orbit after the ISS. The idea that he and NASA experts insist is to encourage private companies to build their own space stations. NASA will provide the necessary support by pledging to become an anchor tenant for such orbiting facilities. However, commercial space stations also have to find private customers.
The problem is that the Congress is remarkably stingy when it comes to appropriating real money for this approach. The fiscal 2020 budget request included $ 150 million for commercial space stations. Congress provided support for a private circulating laboratory totaling $ 15 million. The fiscal 2020 budget request repeated the request for $ 150 million. Congress chose to be a little more liberal: $ 17 million.
It is not that the Congress opposes having a human presence in low Earth orbit. Indeed, as Space.com reported, the Senate version of the NASA authorization bill extends the operational life of the ISS to 2030. Considering the stream of science and technology discoveries that flow from the orbiting laboratory, it is not difficult to see why. Early critics of the ISS, including the late James Van Allen, have been grossly maligned.
Congress does not see any urge to plan for the future of the ISS. The year 2030 is about 10 years away. Elected politicians are doing what they do best, down the road.
Meanwhile, NASA is doing so, which can give an allocated space resources to help the commercial space station industry. An inflatable module called BEAM, courtesy of Bigelow Aerospace, has been associated with the ISS for the past three years. Unfortunately, several factors, not the least of which have been coronovirus epidemics, have forced Bigelow to shut down its entire workforce. Bigelow now uses NASA funding for a free-flight space station built with its inflatable module, a space-agency-developed technology called TransHab.
Axiom Space has won the ISS to attach one of its modules. While not waiting for Congress to raise funds for NASA, Aisom has announced a facility for the construction of the space station module at Houston’s Ellington Spaceport. The company will also have private astronaut training facilities.
In addition to employing 1,000 people, the new Axiom facility represents a commitment to create a commercial space station industry. The fact that a company is willing to invest money to build pieces of a private space station should have an impact on other stakeholders. Axiom should be able to attract commercial customers willing to pay for time spent in the Orbit Research Lab.
The status of the Axiom facility in Texas is no accident, either. For obvious reasons, the Texas congressional delegation has supported NASA and has been growing rapidly in recent years in the commercial space sector expanding its presence in the Lone Star State. Old-fashioned politics that caused House members and senators to favor funding projects, meaning jobs in their states aligned with sound space policy to help raise funding in future years Will go.
It is also no accident that the Axiom facility is about a five-hour drive from the growing SpaceX spaceport in Boca Chica near the southern tip of Texas. No doubt CEO of SpaceX Elon MuskElon Reeve MuskWorld’s richest people said. In their joint assets in 2020.TT, Trump drove as Obama’s 12-year-old most acclaimed man: Gallup Apple CEO ignores meeting request to discuss Tesla sales, Musk says Will be pleased to launch ready-made modules in space, using powerful starship rockets and later crew and cargo.
In the midst of an epidemic, part of a space future in South Texas is taking shape. This time it is being operated by the private sector. NASA had overtaken the best jump or risk on the board.
Mark Whittington, who often writes about space and politics, has published a political study of space exploration titled Why It So Hard to Go Back to the Moon? As well as “The Moon, Mars and Beyond.” He blogs at Curmudgeons Corner. He has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The Hill, USA Today, LA Times and The Washington Post.