Axiom Space: Taking Spatial Optimization to New Heights

Axiom Team
March 25th, 2024

Axiom Space is a leading provider of human spaceflight services and developer of human-rated space infrastructure. The company operates end-to-end missions to the International Space Station today while developing its successor, Axiom Station – the world’s first commercial space station in low-Earth orbit, which will sustain human growth off the planet and bring untold benefits back home.

Axiom Space has identified an opportunity for improvement with Cargo Transfer Bags (CTBs), the primary containers that NASA and private space companies use to send cargo to the International Space Station, and they come with strict regulations around weight and capacity. For the recent Ax-3 mission, Axiom Space noticed that planning CTB loads was manual and time consuming, given complex packing rules and routine changes to the manifest. They needed a faster, more automated approach to prepare for the upcoming mission, and turned to Paccurate.

Paccurate’s cartonization engine is typically used in high-volume parcel fulfillment centers to minimize costs and environmental impact. When Axiom Space approached Paccurate about their upcoming mission to the ISS, it was immediately clear this was not the typical cartonization partnership. Fortunately, the flexibility of Paccurate’s spatial optimization engine allowed it to be adapted to this high-stakes use case. Some of the considerations included:

  • Utilization: There is finite space for cargo on a rocket, so every cubic inch counts.

  • Distance: Packing the CTBs to reduce the distance traveled to retrieve items would save time and money.

  • Priority: Certain items needed to be more readily available.

  • Inseparability: Certain items need to be together.

For most missions on orbit, CTBs are planned months in advance but have to be adjusted routinely as new items, like supplies or science experiments, are added to the manifest. Historically, even minor changes led to manual recalculation. With this new CTB-planning capability, Axiom Space now benefits from the increased efficiency of an automated process to re-run load plans with new items.

“Axiom Space looks forward to working with Paccurate to efficiently pack cargo for future human spaceflight missions,” said Amy Losh, Cargo Integration Engineer Senior Manager, Axiom Space.

Download the full case study here.

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