It could eventually fully replace the International Space Station.

By Andrea Romano
Updated March 09, 2020
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Credit: Courtesy of Axiom

Lots of people have dreamed about the possibility of living in space, and it looks like that day may come sooner rather than later.

According to Architectural Digest, NASA teamed up with startup Axiom Space back in January to create livable, commercial modules for both professionals and private citizens, creating at least one to dock at the International Space Station (ISS) by 2024 — essentially creating NASA’s first commercial station.

Axiom Space was granted access to the Node 2 Forward port on the ISS, according to a statement from the company back in January. The commercial space station has the potential to fully replace the ISS.

The new module is designed by French designer Philippe Starck, who is well known for his eclectic designs. Starck posted photos of the structure’s interior on his website, which is complete with big windows (perfect for the breathtaking view of the earth from above), touch screens, high-speed WiFi, and LED lights, as well as padded walls and handrails that will definitely come in handy in zero gravity, according to Architectural Digest.

Credit: Courtesy of Axiom
Credit: Courtesy of Axiom

“A space station is ruled by a fundamental law: zero gravity. Unlike terrestrial life constraints, life in space is a multi-directional freedom. My vision is to create a comfortable egg, friendly, where walls are so soft and in harmony with the values of movements of the human body in zero gravity,” Starck said in a statement on his website. “This dematerialization shall be a first approach to infinity. The [traveler] should physically and mentally feel their action of floating in the universe.” So, it’s a bit like being in a womb (so to speak) but in space.

According to Architectural Digest, the module will be housing for national astronauts who are not part of the ISS, and eventually non-professional explorers. All missions will be flown by professional astronauts. Physical examinations and training are required before anyone is approved to go on a mission (professional or non-professional). The cost for such a 10-day mission to the new module (when it’s up and running) will potentially cost $35,000, according to the Daily Mail. Which, considering other price quotes for other companies determined to bring about space tourism (Virgin Galactic, Space X, Blue Origin, to name a few) are somewhere around $250,000, this may be a bit of a bargain.

“Axiom’s work to develop a commercial destination in space is a critical step for NASA to meet its long-term needs for astronaut training, scientific research, and technology demonstrations,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement in January. According to Business Insider, the ISS will be retired within the next 10 years, but the Axiom station will operate independently afterward, including having a research lab.

While the module is planned for completion in 2024, Axiom Space also recently announced plans for a mission to the ISS for three private citizens and a professional crew in the latter half of 2021.

“This history-making flight will represent a watershed moment in the march toward universal and routine access to space,” Axiom CEO Michael Suffredini said in a company statement. “This will be just the first of many missions to ISS to be completely crewed and managed by Axiom Space – a first for a commercial entity.”

One small step for Axiom, one giant leap for an actual human society in space.