Artist's illustration of Axiom Space's private space station. Photo: Axiom Space

Axiom Space, a company aiming to operate the first commercial space station in orbit, is planning to fly a crew of private citizens to the International Space Station (ISS) as early as next year using SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule.

Why it matters: The announcement comes as NASA is working to expand commercial operations on the space station. These kinds of space tourism flights are expected to be a big part of that.

Details: The flight, which could launch as early as late 2021, is expected to bring one Axiom-trained flight commander alongside three tourists to live on the station for eight days.

  • "This will be just the first of many missions to ISS to be completely crewed and managed by Axiom Space — a first for a commercial entity," Axiom CEO Michael Suffredini said in a statement.
  • The company hasn't disclosed who the private individuals are or what they might do with their time onboard the station.

Between the lines: The announcement comes as SpaceX is pushing to fly its first astronauts for NASA to the ISS.

  • The Elon Musk-founded company has yet to fly its first people to orbit, but that milestone could come in the coming months as the company stages its first crewed flight for the space agency.

What's next: Axiom expects to fly up to two flights per year to the station, and the company is planning to build out its own modules on the orbiting outpost, with the first launching in 2024.

  • Eventually, Axiom plans to detach those modules and use them to build out its own space station in orbit.

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Updated Jun 11, 2020 - Axios Events

A conversation on CEOs navigating unchartered waters

On Thursday June 11, Axios media reporter Sara Fischer hosted a live, virtual event on critical decisions CEOs have made around company values, layoffs and surviving economic turbulence with Accenture CEO Julie Sweet and CVS Health CEO Larry Merlo.

Julie Sweet said Accenture has maintained pay equity by hiring an outside adviser to annually review the company's pay policies and immediately act to correct any imbalances found.

  • On what companies can do to immediately advance equity: "Addressing pay and equity is completely within our control as companies."
  • On companies that were positioned to transition to remote work: "[Before COVID-19] the top 10% of companies that had done digital transformation were performing twice as well as the bottom 25%. Overnight, that gap has become almost a chasm because those who had invested in advance were able to adjust much more quickly to everything going online."

Larry Merlo discussed CVS Health's response to COVID-19, from turning drive-throughs into testing sites and how the company has adapted to a predominantly remote workforce.

  • On the response to COVID-19: "[CVS Health] was able to scale within 30 days...We're not doing testing from within the store, we're doing it from our drive-through. And we now have tested more than 400,000 individuals."
  • On managing a remote workforce and transitioning back to in-person operations: "We probably had about 20-25% that work from home. But since the March timeframe, we have close to 90%...we're working to bring those colleagues back in a very phased approach, working with the guidelines established by state governors."

In a View from the Top segment, Axios CEO & co-founder Jim VandeHei spoke with SJR CEO Alexander Jutkowitz about the evolving role of leadership in the private sector.

  • "Leadership used to be sort of dynamically thinking about what's good for your organization...The reality now in a post-COVID environment is that it's a form of servant leadership. You have to care about the world at large. You have to care about the people inside of your house and outside of your house."

Thank you SJR for sponsoring this event.

Private equity tycoon seeks public-private model for new Florida transit system

The privately owned Brightline train at the new MiamiCentral terminal. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

As taxpayer-funded public transit systems look for a way out of their coronavirus death spiral, a private equity tycoon is betting on a public-private financing model as a way to fund big transportation projects in the future.

What's happening: Fortress Investment Group's Wes Edens is putting $100 million of his own money into a $9 billion plan to build new light rail systems in Florida and on the West Coast, Forbes writes.

Catholic schools are closing as coronavirus pandemic exacts economic toll

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating economic hardship for Catholic schools across the U.S., as dozens closed their doors this month and many more may have to do the same.

Why it matters: The loss of private schools — about one-third in the U.S. are Catholic — could narrow the education market, especially in low-income and high-minority communities, federal estimates show.