The International Space Station (ISS) is used for a wide variety of things, but science experiments are its primary purpose. Its unique microgravity environment has captured the imagination of humans on Earth for decades. In recent years, a number of organizations and private companies have started to explore the idea of building a private space station—or at least adding private modules to the ISS.
Of all those involved, a startup called Axiom Space is clearly the furthest along. The company has now raised $130 million in Series B funding to continue pursuing its ambitious plans, TechCrunch reports.
The funding will help Axiom hire new talent and construct the first private modules for the ISS.
It’s notoriously difficult to predict the economy here on Earth. For those trying to determine what economics will look like in space, the job is nearly impossible. Even so, experts from Bank of America and Morgan Stanley agree that the space economy could be worth more than $1 trillion within a few decades.
With that much potential, it’s no surprise that companies want their share of the newly developing market. Of course, not every business is going to create its own space division in order to keep up.
That’s where Axiom comes in. TechCrunch describes the startup as a sort of middle-man between private spaceflight and the existing space industry. This applies to both companies that hope to expand their operations into orbit as well as private individuals that want to experience life in space.
Private individuals are certainly closer to reaching the stars than businesses. Earlier this year, Axiom announced a crew of four people that will make up the first private mission to space. The quartet is slated to fly to the ISS aboard a SpaceX rocket in January 2022.
According to TechCrunch, Axiom is acting as the service provider for the mission. This means it is responsible for ironing out the details between all parties involved. It also trains the crew prior to the launch.
The startup is already acting in a similar capacity for business-related endeavors. It participated in discussions with Tom Cruise about filming a movie aboard the ISS and is working on a reality TV show with the grand prize being a trip to space.
On the engineering side, Axiom has been tapped by NASA to be the first private company to design a module for the ISS. The startup is reportedly targeting 2024 as the earliest date to launch its first module.
However, the startup’s plans are broader than that. In 2028, when the ISS is scheduled to be decommissioned, Axiom’s modules will detach and continue to operate as an independent space station. Barring unforeseen events, it will become the first private space station in history.
In a press release, Axiom investor Brian Stern of Declaration Partners, said, “The next-generation space station we are building today will be a key means of conducting space-based research, manufacturing, communication, and travel for decades to come.”
Axiom’s latest funding will allow it to continue pushing the boundaries of what is possible for private spaceflight. Keep an eye on this startup as it constructs its first space station modules.