Guest: Amir Blachman; Topics: Axiom Space, all aspects of private commercial space station development. Please direct all comments and questions regarding specific Space Show programs & guest(s) to the Space Show blog which is part of archived program on our website, www.thespaceshow.com. Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm.
We welcomed Amir Blachman to the show to discuss Axiom Space and the development of private, commercial space stations. During the first segment of our nearly 90 minute program, Amir shared with us his personal story of how he got interested in space. Given that he earned an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management, I asked Amir about his personal due diligence analysis of both Axiom Space and commercial private space stations in deciding to join Axiom Space as their VP of Strategic Development with responsibility for financial planning, funding, and strategic development. Amir had interesting things to say in response to my question so I urge you to listen carefully to his introductory comments as they influenced our discussion for today's program.
In talking with us about Axiom, Amir spent time stressing the experience and quality of the Axiom management team. To read about their management team, simply scroll down on their home page, www.axiomspace.com. He also talked about Axiom using tried and true technology for their space station, including the sharing of ISS resources, making sure of docking capability and even astronaut training which he said would be carried out by the same people that do NASA's astronaut training.
A Denver listener asked Amir about private space station competition, specifically competition from Bigelow Aerospace. Amir had much to say about Bigelow and their BA 330 inflatable module. He even talked about ways that both Bigelow and Axiom might be working together later in the development process.
Timeline questions came up for Amir. He talked about their Space Act Agreement and the first Axiom astronauts going to the ISS in the time frame of late 2020. Don't miss all of what he said on this topic. Later in the segment, Jerry in Tucson inquired about space tourism possibilities as well as the Axiom choice of launch vehicles. Amir said that space tourism flights would last 7-10 days. Launch were planned to start happening in 2019. The space tourism training would be much simpler and shorter than the astronaut training.
I asked Amir about political risks facing Axiom. Political risks are largely but not exclusively related to policy, regulatory, and legal matters. Don't miss what he said in response to this question. Budget issues were also discussed as part of this question.
Before the break, a listener wanted to compare the ISS to an Axiom space station, wanting to know what would enable Axiom to operate an orbital space station at costs that were just a fraction of the costs associated with the ISS. Another listener, Randy, asked about IPO or exit strategy plans for the Axiom founders and investors. Just before the first segment ended, Susan asked a about Axiom's private astronauts and their behavior plus consequences, especially around the topic of sex in space. She based her question on our recent program dealing with psychological human factors with Dr. Kanas from earlier this week. Don't miss Amir's response to this question.
In the second segment, we got a question from Tanya asking about commercial signage opportunities with the Axiom space station. Amir said such opportunities were available along with other sponsorship and advertising options. For those of you interested in this, you can contact Amir and Axiom through their website.
Amir was asked to outline Axiom plans for 2017. As you will hear, Axiom has lots going on, including the closing out of their current round of funding, engaging in the Phase 1 NASA feasibility study, the development of their term sheet and a phone app. It was clear that 2017 will be an active year for Axiom, putting in place the funding and programming for their robust schedule for 2018 events talked about earlier.
Amir was asked specifically about the orbital space tourists. We learned that at this time there will be no EVA options for the space tourist. Amir did say that a space tourist EVA might be a possibility in the future but not for now. I asked about spacesuits as souvenirs for the space tourists. Don't miss what he said about a space tourist coming home with his/her very own spacesuit.
Through another listener email, questions were asked about who was doing the Axiom hardware manufacturing and if 3D printing was a big part of what they were or would be doing. He said yes to 3D printing but was not yet ready to release info on companies that will have Axiom manufacturing contracts. Other topics brought up in this segment included ITAR issues, exporting services, and helping to create a trade surplus. Amir spoke more about sponsorship opportunities including wearing logo patches and such. I asked him if an astronaut or space tourist would resemble a NASCAR driver in uniform. You will have to listen for the answer.
Joe in Salt Lake City asked about Axiom having plans for orbiting space stations in other locations, including around various celestial bodies. Amir said down the road that was likely but their focus was on LEO and developing cislunar space which was the stepping stone for everything else.
Before the segment ended, Kris wanted to know if Axiom was jumping the gun on commercial space readiness as there were no real commercial models to point to for success other than the commercial satellite industry which has been around for decades. Amir offered up a very interesting answer, focusing on segments within a segment that were successful such as pharmaceutical development, insulin and cancer research projects and products, plus a few others. He pointed out how these successful commercial made in space items were part of a much larger commercial complex undertaking and don't normally get separated out, especially for accomplishment. Make sure you hear all of what Amir had to say as this was an important question. The final question came from B John wo wanted to know about Axiom and launching small satellites into space.
Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this archived program at our website. You can reach Amir through me or the Axiom Space website. Also through Twitter, @AxiomSpace.