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A busy 2017 Amir Blachman, vice president of strategic development for Houston-based Axiom Space, said the company is shaping its plans to build the International Space Station’s (ISS) international, privately owned successor. The goals are to build an orbiting outpost that will host government agency astronauts, private companies and individuals for research, manufacturing and space exploration systems testing, and to grow a healthy space-tourism business, Blachman said.This year, Axiom’s to-do list is hefty. “We are now deep into conversations with our first nonsovereign astronaut customers,” Blachman told Space.com in an exclusive interview. Axiom has begun conversations with 20-plus countries, he said, and is also working out the details with its first research and manufacturing tenant. By 2017, Axiom wants to have contracts in place to start driving revenue and project advancements, Blachman said. Furthermore, by closing first and second rounds of funding this year, the group can start construction of the Axiom space station in earnest, he said.
Axiom isn’t the only company vying to provide this commercial successor. Las Vegas-based company Bigelow Aerospace, for example, is building huge expandable space habitats that could serve a variety of customers. The company is currently testing a prototype habitat, known as the Bigelow Aerospace Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), on the ISS.