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Vast to compete with Axiom for NASA’s limited slots for commercial manned missions to ISS

The private space station company Vast, the only one presently building its own space station without a NASA contract, has now announced that it intends to to compete with Axiom for the limited docking slots NASA has made available for commercial manned tourist missions to ISS.

During a panel discussion at the Federal Aviation Administration Commercial Space Transportation Conference Feb. 21, Max Haot, chief executive of Vast, said his company would bid on the fifth and sixth private astronaut missions, or PAMs, that NASA offers to companies seeking to flying commercial missions to the ISS. “From our point of view, it will make us a better space station builder, a better partner of NASA, and it will help us practice a lot of the disciplines we are building” for its future commercial stations, he said of Vast’s plan to bid on the missions.

Up until now, Axiom has had no competition for those limited docking opportunities, has flown two missions, with a third planned for this fall. All it needed to do is negotiate the rental fees with NASA for using ISS. Now NASA will need to open up bidding for those slots. Its job is not to play favorites, but to instead make its taxpayer-funded facilities available to as many private companies as possible. Whether it will do so is at present unclear.

Vast’s own space station, a single module to be launched on SpaceX’s Starship/Superheavy, dubbed Haven-1, is scheduled for launch next year according to Vast officials. If so (assuming SpaceX’s rocket is operational by then), Vast will be the first private space station in orbit, beating Axiom and the two consortiums building Orbital Reef and Starlab. And it will have done it without taxpayer money.

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  • GeorgeC

    Investors value experience; so I would bet that Vast will bid to win at least one slot.

  • pzatchok

    I can see a problem coming around because of this.

    NASA being a public government funded operation can not accept “bids” for docking.
    I do think that all they can do is set a docking fee with a daily fee to stay docked and leave it to first come first served.

    They might run into trouble when a private space station is constructed also.
    All civilian flights will have to go to the private station. Only public open work can be done on the ISS.
    The US government can not do private work with public or military personnel facilities or materials. Those jobs must be left for the civilian market.
    This could also be why NASA has not yet allowed pharma companies to do their work on the ISS.
    This is also why those civilians are required to do NASA work while on the ISS.

    Really the only bidding should be on who fly’s them to the station and for how much. As long as Space X does not drop their prices the bids can only increase in a fight for the flights.

    I could be entirely wrong but I bet something along these lines will go to court in the near future if need be.

  • Dick Eagleson


    (1) Axiom has flown three missions to ISS already with a fourth planned for later this year.

    (2) Vast’s Haven-1 station module is designed to be launched on a Falcon 9, not a Starship, and will use Crew Dragon as its personnel transport. Thus, the only thing on Vast’s critical path is its own Haven-1 module. Starship is the presumptive launch vehicle for larger Vast modules intended for future stations much larger than Haven-1, some of which will be designed to rotate to produce artificial gravity.

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