Axiom also hopes to revive orbital tourism, with tickets priced at US55 million.

As a NASA astronaut for 20 years, Michael Lopez-Alegria conducted 10 spacewalks and set a U.S. record for total spacewalking time (67 hours and 40 minutes) that still stands. Now he heads business development for Houston-based Axiom Space, which aims to send private “spaceflight participants” up to the space station (for USD55 million a seat), then to attach its own commercial module to the International Space Station, followed eventually by a free-flying commercial station of its own. Lopez-Alegria talked to Senior Editor of Air&Space, Tony Reichhardt.



wo years ago, in the summer of 2016, they issued a request for information where they asked industry, “If we wanted to give away [the docking port] what criteria should we use?” A bunch of companies, 19 of us, responded, and NASA indicated that the responses were going to form the basis of a solicitation. But then the election happened, and I don’t pretend to know why it’s taken so long, but they still haven’t done it yet. Recently they issued what’s called a NASA research announcement, asking a lot of the same questions they did in 2016. So we’re encouraging them to use the data they already have to develop a [solicitation].


This article was originally published at Air&Space Magazine ( and has been republished under Creative Commons

By Tony Reichhardt, Smithsonian