from the world's big
NASA to add 'space hotel' to ISS, in privatization push
Got $55 million lying around? If so, you might be able to score a spot aboard the International Space Station starting 2024.
- NASA awarded a contract to startup Axiom Space to attach a "habitable commercial module" to the International Space Station.
- The project will also include a research and manufacturing module.
- The move is a major step in NASA's years-long push to privatize.
NASA and startup Axiom Space plan to attach a "space hotel" to the International Space Station, a major step in the years-long push to privatize the aging station.
Axiom Space, a Houston-based space station manufacturer that was co-founded in 2016 by former ISS program manager Michael T. Suffredini, won a competition among other private space companies to connect a "habitable commercial module" to the space station's Node 2 forward port. Axiom and NASA are still negotiating the terms of the contract, but the ISS add-ons will reportedly include:
- Crew habitat
- A large window for viewing Earth
- Research and manufacturing facility
Axiom said these three modules will form the "Axiom Segment," with the first module launching in 2024. According to NASA Spaceflight, Axiom has already signed a $55 million contract with a prospective space tourist. What's included in that price tag? For starters: 10 days in microgravity at an altitude of 250 miles, which would allow "private astronauts to truly live the experience of life in space," Axiom wrote in a blog post.
Image: Axiom Space
But first, space-tourist-hopefuls would have to pass through physical and medical exams, and 15 weeks of expert training. After that, the trip sounds pretty comfy:
"There will be wifi," Suffredini told the New York Times last year. "Everybody will be online. They can make phone calls, sleep, look out the window. [...] The few folks that have gone to orbit as tourists, it wasn't really a luxurious experience, it was kind of like camping. [...] Pretty soon we're going to be flying a butler with every crew."
A render of the ISS tourist experience.
Image: Axiom Space
In a blog post, NASA wrote:
"Developing commercial destinations in low-Earth orbit is one of five elements of NASA's plan to open the International Space Station to new commercial and marketing opportunities. The other elements of the five-point plan include efforts to make station and crew resources available for commercial use through a new commercial use and pricing policy; enable private astronaut missions to the station; seek out and pursue opportunities to stimulate long-term, sustainable demand for these services; and quantify NASA's long-term demand for activities in low-Earth orbit."
NASA's push to privatize the ISS
When a Russian rocket launched the first module of the ISS into space in 1998, NASA expected the space station to operate for about 15 years. But the agency has extended the life of the ISS twice, with funding currently set to expire in 2024. NASA spends between $3 and $4 billion per year operating and shuttling astronauts to and from the station. That's a decent chunk of the agency's $22.6 annual budget. What's more, the "major structural elements" of the ISS are certified only through 2028.
Meanwhile, NASA has been eyeing other projects, namely: putting humans back on the moon in 2024 and establishing a lunar presence. So, to save and redirect money, the agency has been starting to hand over the aging space station to the private sector, which could use it for commercial research and space tourism.
But some have questioned the move to privatize the ISS, including NASA's own inspector general, Paul K. Martin.
"An obvious alternative to privatization is to extend current ISS operations," Martin wrote in a 2018 report. "An extension to 2028 or beyond would enable NASA to continue critical on-orbit research into human health risks and to demonstrate the technologies that will be required for future missions to the Moon or Mars."
Image: Axiom Space
Martin noted that "research into 2 other human health risks and 17 additional technology gaps is not scheduled to be completed until sometime in 2024," meaning that any slip-ups in the process would mean such research might go uncompleted. He also wrote that it's "questionable" whether the private sector could turn a profit on the ISS without "significant" government funding. The Institute for Defense Analyses, a federally funded research and development center, also found that it "is unlikely that a commercially owned and operated space station will be economically viable by 2025."
The implication is that, if the ISS is handed over to the private sector, taxpayers could end up indirectly supporting space tourism for the ultra-rich. Whether that's worth any of the research benefits that might come from the ISS post-2024 is anybody's guess.
As the ISS enters its final years, China plans to complete construction of a manned space station in 2022.
Emotional intelligence is a skill sought by many employers. Here's how to raise yours.
- Daniel Goleman's 1995 book Emotional Intelligence catapulted the term into widespread use in the business world.
- One study found that EQ (emotional intelligence) is the top predictor of performance and accounts for 58% of success across all job types.
- EQ has been found to increase annual pay by around $29,000 and be present in 90% of top performers.
The rough beauty of the American West seems as far as you can get from the polished corridors of power in Washington DC.
The rough beauty of the American West seems as far as you can get from the polished corridors of power in Washington DC. Until you look at the title to the land. The federal government owns large tracts of the western states: from a low of 29.9% in Montana, already more than the national average, up to a whopping 84.5% in Nevada.
This course collection can get you trained and ready for a six-figure career in this field.
- The Premium 2020 Project & Quality Management Certification Bundle explores the most popular project management methodologies.
- Coursework covers Agile, Agile Scrum, PMI-PMBOK and Six Sigma approaches.
- Valued at $2,699, the course package is on sale for just $45.99.
Researchers are using technology to make visual the complex concepts of racism, as well as its political and social consequences.
- Often thought of first as gaming tech, virtual reality has been increasingly used in research as a tool for mimicking real-life scenarios and experiences in a safe and controlled environment.
- Focusing on issues of oppression and the ripple affect it has throughout America's political, educational, and social systems, Dr. Courtney D. Cogburn of Columbia University School of Social Work and her team developed a VR experience that gives users the opportunity to "walk a mile" in the shoes of a black man as he faces racism at three stages in his life: as a child, during adolescence, and as an adult.
- Cogburn says that the goal is to show how these "interwoven oppressions" continue to shape the world beyond our individual experiences. "I think the most important and powerful human superpower is critical consciousness," she says. "And that is the ability to think, be aware and think critically about the world and people around you...it's not so much about the interpersonal 'Do I feel bad, do I like you?'—it's more 'Do I see the world as it is? Am I thinking critically about it and engaging it?'"
President Vladimir Putin announces approval of Russia's coronavirus vaccine but scientists warn it may be unsafe.