Private space firm wants to reuse parts of the International Space Station

Ryan Whitwam
The International Space Station (ISS) was first launched in 1998, but it took a number of years and multiple launches to get all the pieces in place. The station currently houses a crew of six, and will continue to do so for a few more years. The ISS will be retired sometime in the 2020s, possibly as late as 2028. What should we do with it then? The plan is to de-orbit it over the ocean and let it burn up, but a private space firm called Axiom is proposing cannibalizing the ISS to reuse some of those parts when the time comes.
We’ve talked about Axiom in the past — it seems like one of the most viable private space station projects, in part because its CEO is Michael Suffredini, the former NASA program manager of the ISS. When last we heard from Axiom, it was beginning discussions with NASA to send a new module up to the ISS. The creatively named Module 1 would be the first sizable expansion of the ISS’s pressurized space in years. The design includes living space for as many as seven additional astronauts. Module 1 would dock to the mating adapter installed for the Commercial Crew Program, but it would have a duplicate adapter on board for capsules from SpaceX and Boeing to dock.
The plan NASA and Axiom are currently investigating would see Axiom’s module spend several years docked to the ISS to get it up and running (see below). One benefit cited is that Module 1 could be very useful while it’s docked to the ISS. It will have a more efficient design that requires fewer spacewalks, and the computers will be much more advanced than the old ones on the ISS. When the ISS is retired, Module 1 could detach and be linked up with other modules send up by Axiom.
20161230_axiom-core-attached-iss
The new twist is the proposal from Axiom’s vice-president of strategic development that Axiom could take some bits of the ISS with them when Module 1 goes its own way. The company is particularly interested in a storage module, the Canadarm2 (a robotic arm outside the station pictured at the top), and the cupola module (the one with the canopy window pointed at Earth).
Axiom stresses this plan is not officially on the tablet yet. NASA has yet to agree to the ambitious Module 1 docking plan in the first place. A feasibility study is currently underway, and Axiom expects it to be complete in the next few months. At that point, it might be time to start asking for hand-me-down parts from the ISS.
Private space firm wants to reuse parts of the International Space Station Reviewed by Bizpodia on 15:42 Rating: 5

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