00:13 GMT +323 October 2019
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    New Era of Space Travel: Private Station May Replace ISS by Late 2020

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    Houston-based Axiom Space is seeking to establish a privately-owned, international commercial space station. The launch of the first module is expected in 2020.

    The company, led by Mike Suffredini who managed NASA's International Space Station program for ten years, announced that the low-Earth orbit station will be a successor to the ISS.

    The new orbital platform will host a variety of occupants, from NASA astronauts and astronauts and cosmonauts of sovereign nations, to individual explorers and even space tourists. A study commissioned by Axiom Space concluded that the ‘space city' project could capture a market worth some $37 billion through 2030.

    The company is negotiating with more than 20 countries to work out the details of its first research and manufacturing tenant.

    "The pace is quick. We're answering a demand that's clearly there," said Amir Blachman, vice president of strategic development for Axiom Space.

    The demand partially comes from the fact that the ISS is only funded through 2024, and will be shut down within that time frame.

    "We have to operate on the assumption that the ISS could be de-orbited in 2024… perhaps deorbited sometime after that." Blachman said.

    The company will begin training astronauts this year, to send them to the ISS in mid-2019. According to Blachman, it currently costs about $7.5 million to support each astronaut every day on the ISS, but Axiom Space will cost far below that figure.

    "They will get the same level of training as NASA astronauts. They will be qualified to use all elements of the station," he said.

    NASA has approved Axiom Space's plan to attach its first multipurpose module to the ISS in late 2020. Somewhere between 2024-2028, that module would be separated from the ISS, and serve as a foundation for the new commercial space station.    


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