The Houston-based company Axiom Space announced Monday plans to launch the first-ever commercial space station into orbit in 2020.
Axiom will use the station as a private research base and tourist destination before gradually transitioning it to a zero-gravity manufacturing hub. Axiom wants to send tourists on 10-day missions to the station while also raising revenue from advertising and sponsored programs.
“We expect that, by the 2027 time frame, manufacturing will overtake all the other revenue combined,” Amir Blachman, Axiom Space’s vice president of strategic development, told Space.com. “We’d like to see, with us, astronaut uniforms look like NASCAR uniforms, or modules that have companies’ names on them.”
Axiom plans to use the International Space Station (ISS) to set up the first sections of their space base, which is set to come online just as the ISS is being decommissioned. The whole project should be finished by 2024 at a cost of roughly $1.5 billion.
To put that number in perspective, the ISS cost roughly $150 billion to build, 84 percent of which was paid for by the U.S.
Axiom’s proposed space station will have several 3D-printers capable of building numerous small satellites at a fraction of the current cost required to launch one from Earth.
Space is a unique environment that can allow for industrial processes not easily reproduced on Earth. The microgravity environment would allow extremely pure materials and objects to be created, which could prove extremely useful.
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