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Japanese company proposes building a module to add to Axiom’s space station

Axiom's space station assembly sequence
The assembly sequence for Axiom’s space station while attached to ISS.
Click for original image.

The Japanese company Mitsui has now proposed building a module — based on Japan’s HTV cargo freighter that did several missions to ISS — and sell it to the commercial space stations now under construction.

Mitsui has created a subsidiary called LEO Shachu to develop the module. What makes this project very likely to happen is that Mitsui is also an investor in Axiom’s space station, and according to the article at the link, a Axiom official who is also a retired Japanese astronaut who flew to ISS has expressed interest in it.

This story also helps outline the international landscape of the future stations. While Voyager Space’s Starlab station has been partnering extensively with Europe and Airbus, Axiom appears to be partnering more closely with NASA and Japan. The third station that has obtained NASA money, Blue Origin’s Orbit Reef, had made an earlier deal with Mitsubishi, but appears to have obtained few other outside partners, and that Mitsubishi deal only involved “development work,” not specific hardware. Moreover, Mitsubishi later made a new deal with the Starlab station, suggesting it had broken up with Blue Origin.

A fourth station, being built by the private company Vast with no NASA money, has partnered with SpaceX and ESA. It is also likely to be the first to launch its first module in August 2025, followed soon thereafter by a 30 day 4-person Dragon mission.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.


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  • M. Murcek

    Orbital space stations will continue to be a total waste of money, effort and resources until they are something like Skydeck in the Alex Benedict books, a place where commercial and private superluminals can tie up and replenish for real space trips.

  • Edward

    M. Murcek wrote: “Orbital space stations will continue to be a total waste of money, effort and resources until they are something like Skydeck in the Alex Benedict books, a place where commercial and private superluminals can tie up and replenish for real space trips.

    I have a different take on this. Although interplanetary or interstellar voyages will eventually be important, right now we don’t have those capabilities. In the meantime, space stations will help to develop the technologies and methods that we will need.

    In addition, space stations will allow for free-fall manufacturing, which should return to Earth some very useful materials and pharmaceuticals. The drugs will easily be worth their transportation costs, both up and down. Many of the materials will also be worth their costs. Once we have off-world sources for materials, their costs will come down, too.

    Space Stations — or rather commercial space stations — should be well worth their costs. Commercial companies have great incentives to reduce the construction costs and maximize the efficiencies of their use. Governments have not had much care for the costs, so they may seem inefficient devices, but commercial companies should be able to make them low cost yet extremely useful, in the next half decade or so. Commercial space stations should return goods and services (e.g. experiments) that are worth far more than the cost to build, launch, and operate them.

    The commercial space station companies hold similar opinions as my own, which is why there are so many American companies working on space stations or modules and why there are so many foreign companies with the same goals. For example, Airbus is working on a module for the American Starlab space station.

    More examples:


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