Axiom Space has announced that it is building an office fee park and manufacturing center at Houston Spaceport in Ellington Field.
This development is an optimistic sign that, despite the drag on by Congress, a commercial replacement of the International Space Station (ISS) could well take place. As the ISS approaches the end of its operational life, as between the end of the space shuttle program and the first start of the SpaceX Commercial Crew Dragon mission, the United States has the opportunity to avoid a “space gap.”
When Jim BridensteinNASA-Canadian agreement by James (Jim) Frederick Bridenstein shows how Artemis International Moonshot is. Became the administrator of NASA, one of the questions before him was what to do to maintain a presence in low Earth orbit after ISS. The idea they and NASA experts are pushing is to encourage private companies to build their own space station. NASA will provide the necessary assistance by promising to be the anchor tenant for such orbit facilities. However, commercial space stations will also have to find private customers.
The problem is that Congress is remarkably stingy when it comes to putting real money into this approach. The fiscal 2020 budget request includes 150 150 million for commercial space stations. Congress endorsed private travel labs for a whopping or 15 million. The fiscal year 2020 budget request reiterated the request for million 150 million. Congress chose to be slightly more liberal: 17 million.
It is not that Congress opposes keeping the human presence in low Earth orbit. Indeed, according to a report by Space.com, the Senate version of the NASA Authorization Bill has extended the working life of the ISS to 2030. Given the flow of science and technological discoveries that have come out of orbital laboratories, why not do it? The initial critics of the ISS, including the late James Van Allen, have been completely discredited.
Congress does not see any urgency in planning for the future after the ISS. The year 2030 is about 10 years away. Elected politicians are doing what they are doing, kicking down the road.
Meanwhile, NASA is doing what it can, given the resources allocated, to help the commercial space station industry move forward. An inflatable module called BIM, courtesy of Beagle Aerospace, has been associated with ISS for the past three years. Unfortunately, a number of factors, at least in the absence of a coronavirus epidemic, have forced the Beagle to shut down its entire workforce. Bigelow is now seeking NASA funding for a free-flying space station built from its inflatable modules, which is ironically done using a space-agency-developed technology called transabab.
Axium Space has won a nod to connect one of its own modules to the ISS. Congress is not waiting for funding for NASA, Xiaomi has announced the facility to build space station modules on Hullon’s Ellington spaceport. The company will also have private astronaut training facilities.
In addition to employing 1000 people, the new Axiom facility represents a commitment to building 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 professional customers who are willing to pay for the time spent in the orbit research lab.
The condition of the Axiom facility in Texas, no accident. The Texas congressional delegation, for obvious reasons, is a supporter of NASA and, increasingly, the commercial space sector, which has increased its presence in Lone Star State in recent years. Good old politics that causes members of the House and senators to favor funding projects, which means jobs in their states will join a sound space policy to help raise funds in future years.
It’s also no accident that the Axiom facility is about a five-hour drive from the rising SpaceX spaceport in Boca Chia, south of Texas. No doubt SpaceX CEO Elon MuskElon Reeve Musk The world’s richest man added 208 to his combined fortune in the 20s. Trump ended Obama’s 12-year career as the most admired man: Powerful Starship will be keen to launch modules in the final period using rockets, and subsequent crew and cargo.
Amid the epidemic, part of the future of space is taking shape in South Texas. This time it is being run by the private sector. NASA made the best jump on board or left the risk behind.
Mark Whitting, a frequent writer on space and politics, has published a political study of space exploration. Why is it so difficult to go back to the moon? As well as “Moon, Mars and Beyond.” Blogs on Total Carmudgens Corner. They have been published in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The Hill, USA Today, LA Times and Washington Post, among other places.