Axiom Space saves the International Space Station (ISS). But not the one in low Earth orbit. The full-sized mockup at the Fry’s Electronics store in Webster, Texas. Axiom will lease the sprawling retail site for its engineering operations. Building out the workspace, offices, and lab space underneath the ISS mockup. If you’re not familiar with Axiom, they’re building the first commercial space station.
ISS @ Fry’s Electronics
Fry’s Electronics shut down in February 2021. Most stores have a custom theme to make each one unique. The Webster, Texas, store has a full-sized mockup of the International Space Station.
The mockup hangs above the floor and includes most of the modules of the real space station. Neither NASA nor their international partners have a full-sized mockup of the ISS. The nearby Johnson Space Center has training versions of the modules without the truss and solar panels.
The exterior of the 146,000-square-feet building resembles over-sized space station modules. The store stood unoccupied for a year and a half.
Axiom Space Station
Unlike SpaceX or Blue Origins, Axiom Space isn’t in the rocket business. They’re building the first commercial space station in partnership with NASA.
The first module, called the Axiom Orbital Segment, will launch and attach to the ISS in 2024. Three more modules will attach to that module. The Axiom Space Station will separate from the ISS in 2027. If NASA decommission and deorbits the ISS in 2028, the Axiom Space Station will be the only human habitat in space.
The modules will probably go up on SpaceX rockets.
Axiom Mission 1 (April 2022)
The Axiom Mission 1 flew to the ISS on a chartered SpaceX Dragon Crew capsule this past April. The crew included one trained astronaut and three space tourists. They conducted 25 research experiments during their ten-day stay at the ISS. The entire mission lasted 17 days.
Axiom plans to send up two crews per year to the ISS while building out their space station.
ISS @ Axiom Space
Axiom worked with the property owner to preserve the mockup inside the building. The buildout will initially support 400 employees and accommodate up to 540 employees. Employees are moving in over the next several weeks. The building lease is for six-and-a-half years.
A full-size mockup of the ISS is a lot cooler than a 43-inch Lego Star Wars Destroyer hanging from the ceiling.