NASA announced that it has chosen Houston-based Axiom Space to supply its first commercial destination modules for space tourism.
The US space agency said the selection is an important step in its bid to develop a “robust low-Earth orbit economy” as part of its push to commercialise space travel.
These modules will be able to attach to the Node 2 forward port on the International Space Station (ISS) to provide living quarters for tourists.
Axiom Space explained that the units will provide modern accommodation and a first-of-its-kind immersive view of Earth, as well as additional manufacturing and research volume.
The modules will be the first elements of Axiom’s own free-flying space station, which it will gradually expand and eventually detach from the ISS once the latter is retired.
Other commercial space travel projects
NASA is not the only entity that is working towards making commercial space travel a reality – Virgin Galactic is developing its own spacecraft for private sub-orbital spaceflights.
Thus far, the company has struggled to get its spaceflight programme for tourists off the ground, but it has made progress in the mid-air deployment of space rockets from its modified Boeing 747 Cosmic Girl.
These deployments will primarily be used for research missions, however.
Blue Origin, founded by Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, is another aerospace manufacturing and spaceflight services company that hopes to make private space travel more viable.