Voyager Space, a US space venture company, and Airbus, a renowned aerospace firm, made a joint announcement about their collaboration to construct a private version of the International Space Station (ISS).
In their recent announcement, they said Airbus would be the core partner in a newly planned venture responsible for the development, construction, and operation of the orbital research post.
The reason behind this strategic move is to expand Europe’s involvement in the ambitious space project. However, Reuters reports that specific details regarding shareholdings and financial arrangements are yet to be disclosed.
Starlab is among the three private concepts designed to replace the ISS, which has served as an orbital laboratory that has housed crews for over two decades.
The original blueprint for Starlab featured an inflatable habitat designed by Lockheed Martin. However, as per Reuters, a subsequent decision to adopt a metallic structure resulted in Airbus superseding Lockheed Martin’s role.
Dylan Taylor, the CEO of Voyager Space, clarified that “Lockheed will likely still have a role to play somewhere within the supply chain.”
He also said that Starlab will remain a US-led initiative, and that “There will be contributions coming from Europe, but there will definitely be an assembly and large contributions coming from the US”.
The International Space Station
NASA, as per Reuters, has planned to retire the ISS in 2030 and intends to rely on private companies to host scientific research in low-Earth orbit. However, the NASA officials have acknowledged that the ISS’s lifespan might need to be extended as a private replacements moves forward.
Voyager Space and Airbus have reportedly stated that Starlab is expected to deploy around 2028.
“It will occur before the ISS decommissioning; we’re highly confident of that. Whether it’s going to be late 2027, early 2028, or late 2028 we’re still working out those details,” said Taylor.