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Artist's illustration of Axiom's space station modules. Image: Axiom Space

Axiom Space wants to build a space station for a new age of exploration, and last week, the Houston-based company started moving ahead with its plans in earnest.

Driving the news: NASA announced that the company has been chosen to add its first module to the International Space Station, opening up the orbiting laboratory to more commercial activities in the future.

The big picture: NASA wants to foster commercial enterprise in orbit so it becomes a user, not a provider, of services, freeing up the agency to focus on its broader goals like sending people to the Moon and Mars.

  • If Axiom succeeds in building and operating a commercial space station, it will mark a turning point for how space is used and who has access to it.
  • Axiom's station will be focused on catering to private companies and space agencies or even tourists who want to experience outer space for themselves.

Details: Axiom expects to launch its first module to the station by the second half of 2024, with a habitation module coming about six months later and a manufacturing module launching six months after that, Axiom co-founder Michael Suffredini told Axios.

  • When the International Space Station comes to an end, Axiom plans to remove its modules and become a free-standing station that can be accessed by the company's customers.
  • Axiom already has a deal with either Boeing or SpaceX — the company wouldn't confirm which — to fly an Axiom crew to the station in 2021.
  • "We expect to procure flights from both providers over time to fly our missions," Suffredini said. "We're beginning these flights early in order to set the cadence and the rhythm."

But, but, but: Axiom's business is potentially risky. The company will face a number of technical challenges around getting its station up and running, and the demand for a private space station in orbit isn't yet well understood.

Go deeper: Private spaceflight companies plan to capitalize on the ISS

Go deeper

Dead malls get new life

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Malls are becoming ghosts of retail past. But the left-behind real estate is being reimagined for a post-pandemic world.

Why it matters: As many as 17% of malls in the U.S. "may no longer be viable as shopping centers and need to be redeveloped into other uses," per Barclays.

White House now says Biden will move to increase refugee cap by May 15

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The White House on Friday afternoon said President Biden plans to lift the Trump-era refugee cap by May 15.

Driving the news: The announcement follows stinging criticism from several Democrats and rights groups, who said Biden was walking back on his pledge to raise the limit. Earlier Friday, Biden signed a directive to speed up the processing of refugees, but kept the Trump administration's historically low cap of 15,000 refugees for this year.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Suspect in FedEx shooting identified as 19-year-old former employee Brandon Hole

Crime scene investigators walk through the FedEx parking lot in Indianapolis the day after a mass shooting left nine dead, including the gunman, who took his own life. Photo: Jeff Dean/AFP via Getty Images.

The suspected gunman who killed at least eight people and wounded several others in Indianapolis before killing himself has been identified by local police as 19-year-old Brandon Hole, a former FedEx employee, a company spokesperson told the AP.

The latest: At least 100 people were in the FedEx warehouse at the time of the shooting, authorities said Friday. Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Deputy Chief Craig McCartt told reporters that Hole worked at FedEx through 2020. He did not specify the circumstances of Hole’s departure.