Meet Starlab, a private space station that could fly by 2027

(Image: Nanoracks>
With the increase in commercial space exploration comes a new intergalactic destination: a private space station called Starlab. It is being developed through a partnership between Voyager Space, Nanoracks and Lockheed Martin, and they announced late last week that they plan to have Starlab operational by 2027. Starlab will be the first commercial free-flight space station.

The goal behind Starlab is twofold. For starters, it would serve as a low Earth orbit (LEO) tourist destination, which is the next step in the development of a Rapidly expanding the industry that seeks to market space out. This facet of the Endgame Starlabs relies on a 340 cubic meter inflatable habitat developed by Lockheed Martin. As the ideation of Starlabs has only just begun, it’s currently unclear what space tourists’ visit to the station will look like (or how much it will cost).

Starlab’s second goal is to eventually replace the International Space Station, given that the ISS is expected to retire by 2030 due to its annual operating cost of $ 4 billion. The heart of the outpost, called George Washington Carver Science Park, will include four operational departments: a biology lab, a plant habitation lab, a physical and materials science research lab, and an open workspace. , where up to four astronauts can conduct research at a time. Although Starlab is not as spacious as the ISS, NASA Director of Commercial Spaceflight Phil McAlister said researchers won’t need something as big and as capable as the ISS to move forward. Nanoracks website says Starlab will result in significantly lower construction and operating costs than its predecessor, delivering benefits to both taxpayers and business partners.

Other elements of Starlabs’ construction will include a metal mooring node, a 60 kW power and propulsion element, and a robotic arm to service cargo and payloads. It will also have a payload capacity of 22 cubic meters, equivalent to that of the ISS.

“We are thrilled to be part of such an innovative and capable team that enables each company to leverage its core strengths,” said Lisa Callahan, vice president and general manager of the commercial civilian space at Lockheed Martin in the press release. “Lockheed Martin’s vast experience in building complex ships and systems, coupled with Nanoracks’ business innovation and Voyager’s financial expertise enables our team to create a customer-focused space station that will fuel our vision. future. We have made significant investments in habitat technology, which allows us to deliver a cost-effective, mission-driven spacecraft design for Starlab. “

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