How commercializing the International Space Station can help astronauts get to the moon and Mars

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Commercializing the International Space Station (ISS) could allow for testing components for future moon and Mars missions, and the orbiting platform could also be a pit stop on the way to the moon, according to a panel at the virtual International Astronautical Congress.The IAC usually runs in-person at a different city every year, but its 2020 conference in Dubai was delayed by a year in favor of virtual sessions — a necessary change due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Participants in the ISS commercialization discussion Tuesday (Oct. 13) represented private space companies on three continents who have forged close relationships with NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). “The vastness of the microgravity environment provides a huge opportunity for us to do research, to manufacture items in orbit, and to allow our species to make a step off our home planet and live in other parts of the universe,” said Axiom Space CEO Michael Suffredini, who was NASA’s ISS program manager from 2005 to 2015.Related: ISS at 20: Commercialization and its looming end of life In January, NASA picked the Houston-based company Axiom Space to build at least one habitable private module that will attach to the ISS …

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