One of the new space startups with the loftiest near-term goals has raised $130 million in a Series B round that demonstrates investor confidence in the scope of its ambitions: Axiom Space, which has been tapped by NASA to add privately developed space station modules to the ISS, announced the new funding led by C5 Capital.
This is the latest in a string of high-profile announcements for Axiom, which was founded in 2016 by a team including space professionals with a history of demonstrated expertise working on the International Space Station. Eventually, Axiom hopes to go from adding the first private commercial modules to the existing station, to creating their own, wholly private on-orbital platforms — for research, space tourism and more.
Axiom announced the people who will take part in its first-ever private astronaut launch to the ISS, which is set to fly next January using a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket. Axiom is the service provider for the mission, brokering the deal for the private spacefarers and setting up training and mission profile. That should be the first time we see a crew made up entirely of private individuals (i.e. not astronauts selected, trained and employed by their respective national government) make its way to the station.
The company was also in discussions with Tom Cruise about filming at least part of an upcoming film aboard the ISS, and it’s in development with a production company on a forthcoming competition reality show that will see contestants vie for a spot on a private flight to the station.
Axiom is emerging as the leading linkage between private human spaceflight and the existing infrastructure and industry, covering both public sector partners like NASA, and the “rails” of the bourgeoning industry — SpaceX and its ilk. It’s been focused on this unique opportunity longer than most in the private market, and it has all the relationships and in-house expertise to make it work.
This new, significant injection of capital will help the company hire, as well as boost its ability to construct the pieces of its forthcoming private space station modules, as well as its eventual station itself. The Houston-based company aims to put its ISS modules on the station by 2024, and it has raised $150 million to date.