The private space station Starlab, which will replace the ISS, will launch into orbit on a Starship rocket later this decade. The corresponding agreement was signed by SpaceX, the company responsible for the rocket, and the Starlab Space joint venture of Voyager Space and Airbus, which is developing the station.
Image source: Voyager Space / Starlab Space
Starlab Space became one of the first commercial customers to order the launch of Starship from SpaceX. The companies did not disclose the cost of the launch contract. The private space station is planned to be launched on a single mission using a giant SpaceX rocket.
Starlab is one of several orbital stations currently being developed by American private companies. NASA decided, after the completion of the International Space Station project in 2030, not to build a new orbital station on its own, but to entrust this to private companies and use their stations on a commercial basis.
Voyager and Airbus plan to launch Starlab as early as 2028. The four-year development and construction period for the space station also gives SpaceX time to move from Starship demonstration flights to launching customer-ordered spacecraft.. So far, both Starship launches ended in the explosion of a giant ship, but the second launch was much more successful than the first. This gives hope that the third launch, for which the company is already preparing in full, will go even better.
Image source: SpaceX
The Starlab station modules will be approximately 8 meters in diameter, which is approximately twice the diameter of the ISS modules. This limits the choice of rockets that can be used to launch the station within a single mission.
Voyager Chairman and CEO Dylan Taylor says launching the entire Starlab station on Starship in one mission is » the right way to de-risk our program. «. » Then you won't have to do the risky on-orbit assembly with multiple launches ,» Taylor told CNBC.
Voyager and Airbus are working with NASA on the project, as Starlab previously received funding through the agency's Commercial LEO Destinations program.. The developers are creating the station with an eye on the market for research in microgravity conditions in space. Starlab will be designed for a permanent crew of four and up to 30 years of operation in orbit.