While some in the sector warn of a prospective space station gap, Nanoracks, its major shareholder Voyager Space, and the Lockheed Martin firm are going to collaborate on the creation of the commercial space station. Nanoracks announced on October 21 that it was collaborating on the creation of a commercial space station dubbed Starlab with Lockheed Martin as well as Voyager Space. Nanoracks is going to be the main contractor, with Voyager in charge of investment and strategy and Lockheed as technical integrator and manufacturer.
Starlab would be made up of a docking node featuring an inflatable module on one side as well as a spacecraft bus on the other, which would provide power and propulsion. Starlab will be about three-eighths the size of the ISS (International Space Station), with a volume of about 340 cubic meters and a power output of 60 kilowatts. Starlab is going to have a robotic arm and a “state-of-the-art” lab and will be able to accommodate four astronauts at once.
Nanoracks, which began by carrying payloads to the International Space Station, has made it apparent that it has been interested in the creation of the commercial space station in recent years. Marshall Smith, a former NASA executive, was hired in August to manage the company’s commercial space station development activities. “From the start, Nanoracks has aspired to own and run a private space station to unlock market demand completely,” stated Jeff Manber, the company’s CEO. Last year, they flew payloads to the International Space Station and installed a commercial airlock dubbed Bishop. “As we move ahead with Starlab, Nanoracks, as well as our team, are delighted to collaborate with NASA and other friends throughout the world.”
“Our team can create a customer-centered space station that is going to fuel our future vision,” Lisa Callahan, who works as the vice president and the general manager (GM) of the commercial, civil space, stated in a statement. “Lockheed Martin’s vast experience in developing complex spacecraft and systems, combined with Nanoracks’ commercial business innovation and Voyager’s financial expertise, enables our team to establish a customer-centered space station that is going to fuel our future vision,” she added. She stated that the company has invested money in housing technologies that “allows us to present a cost-effective, mission-driven spaceship design for Starlab.”
According to the companies, Starlab might have operational capabilities as soon as 2027. They didn’t say how much the project would cost or how it was going to be funded. The businesses are among plenty of other contenders for a spot in NASA’s Commercial Low Earth Orbit Destinations (CLD) program. This program, which was revealed earlier this year, will give NASA cash to do preliminary research on commercial space stations before certifying them for utilization by NASA astronauts.
For the initial round of the CLD program, an anticipated 10 to 12 companies filed applications, with NASA anticipated to make 2 – 4 grants. Axiom Space, which was recently awarded a NASA contract to connect a commercial module to ISS (International Space Station), has revealed plans to utilize the module as the foundation of a prospective space station. Like Sierra Space and Blue Origin, other firms have offered space station concepts or expressed interest in stations via job postings.