Science

Axiom Space deal to supply New Zealand with International Space Station research

New Zealand has a research ticket to work on the International Space Station.

On July 28, the country partnered with commercial research company Axiom Space to conduct experiments on future missions with the Houston-based company.

“We at Axiom Space are excited to partner with Aotearoa. [the original Maori name for New Zealand] offer new access to space and create opportunities for companies, scientists and researchers,” said Michael Saffredini, President and CEO of Axiom, in a July 28 statement. (will open in a new tab).

Photo: First space tourists

New Zealand will focus on manufacturing and biotechnology on the International Space Station (ISS) under an agreement that involves research teams from the University of Canterbury and the University of Auckland.

The new memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Axiom appears to be part of the country’s ongoing expansion of work in space. In 2021, New Zealand became the 11th country to sign the Artemis Accords, a set of international agreements governing future NASA-led lunar exploration.

New Zealand has signed agreements aimed at lunar exploration under the Artemis program, which aims to go to the surface and discuss the management of space resources on the Moon. (NASA plans to mine lunar water to reduce the cost and complexity of long-term lunar settlement.)

The statement said institutions in New Zealand will use the MoU with Axiom for issues such as drug and vaccine development, as well as an artificial intelligence system designed to simplify clinical decision making.

“Initially developed to help manage the health of astronauts, this tool can help medical professionals assess health risks and plan treatment when they are very far away from places where patients are, such as in space or in Antarctica,” wrote Axiom and New Zealand. “Axiom Space will bring space experience to the table, while the New Zealand team will provide expertise in computing, medicine and human performance.”

Axiom Space, founded in 2016, conducted the first ever private exploration mission to the ISS in early 2022. The mission, called Ax-1, carried three paying space tourists and a retired NASA astronaut to the International Space Station on a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. .

As the company prepares to launch new missions already approved by NASA, Axiom has ambitious plans for new structures to attach to the orbital outpost, many of which are for exploration. When the space station is decommissioned (which is expected to happen in the early 2030s), these designs will collectively separate as a self-sustaining private space station in low Earth orbit.

According to the company’s website, the first Axiom Space module should reach the space station sometime in late 2024. (will open in a new tab).

Prior to New Zealand, Axiom signed similar MoUs with Italy, Hungary and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), including enlisting Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi for an Arab country’s first long-duration mission to the ISS in the spring of 2023.

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace (will open in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (will open in a new tab) and on facebook (will open in a new tab).

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