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The competition heats up: NASA to offer port on ISS for private modules.
Several companies have previously expressed an interest in adding a module to the ISS for commercial or NASA use. In April, Bigelow Aerospace said it had made an unsolicited proposal to NASA to add one of its B330 modules under development to the ISS. In August, the company received an award from NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) to study that concept in more detail.
Axiom Space, a company led by former NASA station program manager Mike Suffredini, announced in June plans to develop a commercial module that could be added to the station as a precursor to a standalone commercial space station. Suffredini said in July that his company planned to respond to the NASA RFI.
Another venture that received a NASA NextSTEP award in August was a consortium called Ixion, which includes NanoRacks, Space Systems Loral and United Launch Alliance. Ixion will study converting a Centaur upper stage into a commercial ISS module.
This confirms my belief that ISS will not be retired in 2024, but will slowly transition to private hands and will be steadily replaced by new private modules as old ones wear out.