On March 20, Boryung (formerly Boryung Pharmaceutical) and Axiom Space signed an agreement to establish a joint venture (JV) to promote various projects in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The two parties embarked on detailed discussions to develop the JV in May. Through the JV, Boryung and Axiom Space will jointly explore various business opportunities utilizing Axiom Space’s space infrastructure and space development technology. The newly established JV will conduct all projects that Axiom Space will pursue in collaboration with South Korean companies and government.
The JV establishment’s significance is to enable Boryung to secure infrastructure to research and develop diverse space-related technologies in promoting its Care In Space project while expanding opportunities in research, development, and business by utilizing LEO at the national level. Based on such progress, Boryung plans to conduct national space development missions and create space research and development synergies by collaborating with various companies.
Low Earth Orbit (LEO) encompasses Earth-centered orbits with an altitude of 2,000 km (1,200 mi) or less. It is the gateway to space where most countries execute their space budgets, and private companies compete. Satellites for the “Space Internet” pursued by private space companies, including SpaceX and Blue Origin, are also LEO satellites. The International Space Station (ISS), the outpost of space exploration, is also located at this altitude. It is the most active place for research and development projects implemented at the government and private sector levels.
Currently, Axiom Space is developing the world’s first private commercial space station in LEO (Axiom Station) to replace the International Space Station, which is scheduled to retire in 2030. In April 2022, Ax-1, the world’s first all-private astronaut mission, was also successfully implemented by Axiom Space.
Furthermore, Axiom Space plans to execute a second crewed mission to the ISS, Ax-2, which will include Saudi Arabian male and female astronauts this year, while constantly winning contracts for national-level astronaut projects. With such projects, Axiom Space will conduct various missions in the microgravity environment of LEO.
Meanwhile, Axiom Space is becoming NASA’s key partner by expanding its business in various areas based on next-generation technology and private space stations. NASA selected Axiom Space as the Artemis 3 spacesuit’s manufacturer in June 2022. It unveiled the new next-generation spacesuit, ‘AxEMU’ (Axiom Extravehicular Mobility Unit), in 40 years in collaboration with Axiom Space on March 15. Spacesuit is an aggregate of crucial technologies that protect astronauts’ lives in extreme environments with more than 18,000 components, including air conditioning systems. Axiom Space has won a total of USD 228.5 million for the spacesuit development project and possesses its ownership. When NASA’s Artemis 3 lands on the lunar South Pole in 2025, astronauts will wear the ‘AxEMU.’
In 2022, Boryung made two strategic investments of USD 60 million in Axiom Space, solidifying its strategic partnership with Axiom Space by co-hosting the Care In Space Challenge (CIS Challenge), a competition aimed at supporting human health and various free activities in space.
“We have established a foothold to promote projects exclusively in South Korea with Axiom Space, which has the strongest competitiveness in the private sector in terms of LEO, the gateway to the Moon and Mars,” said Jay Kim, CEO of Boryung. He added “Beyond our financial investment in Axiom Space, we will continue to develop our relationship as close strategic partners.”
Boryung’s CIS plans to focus more on solving human activities and healthcare issues in space with diverse partners this year. The scope of cooperation and joint business via JV between Boryung and Axiom Space is anticipated to expand further, considering Axiom Space’s broad business portfolio from next-generation spacesuit development to space stations. As Axiom Space has dramatically improved the spacesuits’ convenience and safety devices to implement missions in space for more people for a longer time, the CIS project will provide analysis and solutions to astronauts’ healthcare problems to create synergy.
Axiom Space CEO and President Michael Suffredini, stated, “Axiom Space will continue expanding its capabilities in low-Earth orbit, developing space infrastructure and pursuing human spaceflight missions, as well as supporting extensive research and experiment opportunities in pharmaceuticals, healthcare, and other fields through missions to the ISS today and to Axiom Station in the near future.” He added, “Our core partner, Boryung, is leading the way in innovative approaches to the success of long-duration human spaceflights through their CIS Program, and we look forward to working closely with their team to push the boundaries of space exploration.”