Future habitats in leo

Commercial Leo destination & nextstep awarded station proposals

The next wave of LEO space stations.


as of April, 2023

axiom station

Lead Institutions:  Axiom Space

Partner Institutions:  Thales Alenia


2022 Sep – MOU with Saudi space commission to fly Saudi astronauts.
2022 Sep – MOU’s with Turkey for astronaut trip; Canada, Hungry & New Zealand for research
2022 Sep – Awarded Extravehicular Activity Services (xEVAS) next-gen spacesuit contract

2023 Apr – Thales Alenia completing a number of hardware structures for Hab 1 & 2 now
2023 May – Ax-2 mission launch: two American & two Saudi Arabian astronauts

Target Dates:

2025 – First modules launched to ISS
2026 – second clone module launched (6-8mo after first)

NextSTEP Award:  $140 mil.

Envisioned Crew:  TBD
Power:  ?    Volume:  ?

Mission/Vision:  “Construction of the world’s first commercial space station from modules attached to ISS to independence.”
Intended Capabilities:  “Hub-1 has 4 crew quarters, Payload accommodations, and crew amenities/life-support, Research & manufacturing capabilities, Hub-2, Lab, & Power Tower” Also will provide astronaut candidate training and certifcation; expert mission planning transportation, provisions microgravity experiment, design and managemtn of orbital time”
AZ Engagement:  Axiom and ASU are both executive-level academic institution member). Perhaps ASU could consult at some point with the Axiom Station team on lessons-learned and best-practices from the Orbital Reef University Adviosry Council once it gets underway? Additionally, ASU’s growing expertise across robotics-teaming & human systems engineering could add value to axioms training prgrams?

northrop grumman

commercial space station

Lead Institutions:  Northrop Grumman

Partner Institutions:  Dynetics, Star Harbor

Progress (SAA gets them through PDR):

2022 Sep – Northrop Grumman and Star Harbor partner on market research & crew training.
2022 Oct – Iterate off Cygnus heritage; Lower tech risk and reliable; Differs from flashy first-time competitors’ hardware and design.

Target Dates:

2027 – NG Commercial Space Station operational

Commercial LEO Destinations Award:  $125.6 mil.

Envisioned Crew:  4-6
Power:  ?    Volume:  150-300m3

Mission/Vision:  “Space-as-a-service commercial LEO station to continue work of the ISS
Intended Capabilities:   “Heritage-heavy from Cygnus & HALO for rapid deployment & modular expansion to meet the growing needs of the space economy. Multiple docking ports, crew habitats, labs, movie production, crew ailocks, and facillities capable of providing artifical gravity, in-space manufactuing, external payloads platform support and science & research support.”
AZ Engagement:  Northrop Grumman’s “launch business components” have facillities in Phoenix. Perhaps ASU could consult at some point with this station’s institutional team on lessons-learned and best practices from the orbital Reef University Advisory Council once it gets underway?

orbital reef

Lead Institutions:  Blue Origin, Sierra Space

Partner Institutions:  Boeing, Redwire, AWS, Amazon Supply Chain, Genesis Engineering Solutions, IBM, Arizona State University

Progress (SAA gets them through CDR):

2022 Aug – SDR passed: station concept meets functional and performance requirements.
2022 Sep – Applications opened for Reef Starter Innovation Challenge with TechConnect

2022-23 – Dream Chaser uncrewed test vehicle, “Tenacity”, being affixed with thermal tiles
2023 Apr – Blue announces new 43k sq.ft. facility in Phoenix for “advanced spacecraft”
2023 – LIFE module undergoing successful pressure tests

Target Dates:

2023 Jul — WDR, FRF, & maidan test launch of ULA’s Vulcan; will enable Dream Chaser (payload, Astrobotic’s “Peregrine” lunar lander limits possible monthly launch window)
2024-2025 — Blue Origin’s New Glenn test flight
2026 — Sierra’s crewed Dream Chaser orbital test flight
2027 — Orbital Reef operational

Commercial LEO Destinations Award:  $130 mil.

Envisioned Crew:  6-10
Power:  ?    Volume:  830m3

Mission/Vision:  “Space station business park with straightforword access for all.”
Intended Capabilities:  “Transport logistics leased space, utilities, berths scale with market demand. Help with system hardware development, robotic and crew-tended operations and servicing & habitation amenities. 4-6 permanent crew.”
AZ Engagement:  ASU leads the Orbital Reef University Advisory Council, a global consortium of 14 universities (including Stanford & Oxford) with expertise in space and microgravity research. The Council will “focus academic community needs, stimulate research, advise novice researchers, evolve standards of conduct, and lead STEM outreach.”


Lead Institutions:  Voyager Space, Nanoracks, Airbus

Partner Institutions:  The Ohio State University, ASU/MILO, University of Michigan, Purdue University

Progress (SAA gets them through CDR)
2022 Sep – Hilton “helping design accommodations and ground-to-space astronaut experince”
2022 Oct – MOU’s with 5 Latin American countries during IAC
2022 Oct – Plans for George Washington Carver Science Park’s terrestrial component to be established at the Ohio State Univ.

2023 Jan – Airbus supplants Lockheed Martin as main partner with Voyager on project.

Target Dates:

2027 – Starlab Operational

Commercial LEO Destinations Award:  $160 mil.

Envisioned Crew:  4
Power:  60kW    Volume:  340m3

Mission/Vision:  “Multifunctional Station for commerce & innovation, business and science.”
Intended Capabilities:  “Inflatable habitat, robotic arm for servicing cargo and external payloads, Ohio State Univ.’s George Washington Carver science Park state of the art lab will host advanced research and science in 4 first core topic and an open workbench.”
AZ Engagement:  Part of disscussion with Ohio State on GWCSP research plans.


Axiom Station

Northrop Grumman’s Commercial Space Station

Orbital Reef



Lunar Gateway