The Houston company that built the orbital commercial space has found a perfect place to move: a spacious space that will feature a full-fledged International Space Station statue (opens in a new tab) (ISS).
Axiom Space, which has a contract with NASA to inspect parts of the Axiom Station located at the International Space Station, has leased the former Fry’s Electronics facility in Webster, Texas, to maintain its engineering functions. The former big-box retail store, which closed when the national chain went out of business (opening a new tab) in 2021, is different from its long-standing ISS football representation.
“The Axiom Space engineering team has grown exponentially to meet the growing needs of developing the world’s first commercial space station. Especially for many in the NASA / aerospace community, “said Matt Mendler, chief technology officer at Axiom Space, in a statement issued by SPACE.com.
Contained within the building itself, which is designed to resemble large space station modules, the former Fry’s ISS includes many components of a complex structure. The mockup covers the U.S. laboratory. Destiny, Quest airlock and Cupola; Russia’s Zvezda service module and Zarya Active Block (FGB); Kibo Japanese laboratory; and the European Space Agency Columbus module.
The installation of the space station also features a cannon arm of Canadarm2, a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, two models of the never-before-seen NASA paramedics X-38, and space shutters (mannequins) wearing the identical space suits. Additional large modules served as product display rooms and in-store cafes, while most of the station sat in the middle and above the computer and other corridors.
The construction was and continues to be the only one on Earth, and NASA and any international partners do not have a complete ISS. (The nearby Johnson Space Center in Houston has training versions for each module, but it leaves truss and solar fins.)
Construction is currently underway to transform a 146,000-square-foot (13,600 square-meter) building to meet the needs of Axiom, which includes adding collaborative space, offices, and laboratory space. The roof of the building will support Axiom’s complete recording systems and engineering units at its space station.
The ISS, however, will remain. Axiom has worked with the building ownership team to leave all space-related pieces hanging upside down and other space features that are different from the center design.