July 19, 2024

Introducing Starlab: The Future Replacement for the International Space Station

2 min read

As the International Space Station (ISS) approaches retirement, a transatlantic team is working on an exciting project to create its replacement: Starlab. Airbus and US startup Voyager have joined forces to develop, build, and operate this cutting-edge space station, aiming to strengthen the collaboration between the US and Europe in space exploration.

“This pioneers continued European and American leadership in space that takes humanity forward,” said Jean-Marc Nasr, Head of Space Systems at Airbus. “Together, our teams are focused on creating an unmatched space destination both technologically and as a business operation.”

The plan is to produce a commercial successor to the ISS, which is scheduled to de-orbit in 2031. Starlab will serve as a crucial hub for both NASA and the European Space Agency, facilitating their missions and research endeavors.

“We are establishing this joint venture to reliably meet the known demand from global space agencies while opening new opportunities for commercial users,” explained Matthew Kuta, President at Voyager Space.

Starlab is not the only contender in the race to replace the ISS. Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin has proposed a “mixed-use business park” called Orbital Reef, while Northrop Grumman aims to build a modular, free-flying space station. However, Starlab, with its innovative design and collaborative approach, is poised to be a strong competitor.

NASA has provided funding for all three concepts, emphasizing the importance of commercial viability. In December 2021, the space agency awarded $160 million to the Voyager venture, $130 million to Orbital Reef, and $125.6 million to Northrop Grumman’s project. Now, NASA will evaluate the proposals to determine which ones deserve further support.

With Starlab on the horizon, the future of space exploration looks promising. This ambitious project not only represents a technological leap but also symbolizes the unity between nations in their quest to push the boundaries of human knowledge beyond Earth.

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