After the first flights by Virgin Galactics, Blue Origin and SpaceX, the race for commercial space travel continues and now three U.S. companies – Nanoracks, Voyager Space and Lockheed Martin – have announced a project to build what would be humanity’s first private space station for scientific research, as reported in a joint press release, and to host tourists, according to Space.com.
The station will be called Starlab and is expected to be operational by 2027. Its promoters assure that its objective is to satisfy the “growing needs of the space economy”, both for individual clients who want to do space tourism and for public and private institutions, such as governments, companies or research centers, who want to use its facilities for research purposes against payment.
The promoters of this project explain that Starlab will have a volume of 340 cubic meters and will consist of an inflatable living space that will house all the people in the station, a metal docking node, a large robotic arm for loading and unloading and state-of-the-art laboratories to offer multiple possibilities for research, both scientific and industrial. In addition, four solar panels will generate approximately 60 kW of electricity.
The companies claim that the station will have the capacity to continuously accommodate four astronauts for research, but have not specified if this will be the total capacity of the facility or if it will have other spaces for possible overnight stays of galactic tourists.
The main core of Starlab will be the George Washington Carver Science Park, which will be composed of four laboratories: biology, to work with living organisms; botanical, only for plants; physics and new materials; and a last multipurpose one.
Of the three partners that will collaborate to carry out this project, Lockheed Martin, one of the world’s leading companies in the arms and aerospace industry, stands out. Nanoracks, on the other hand, is one of the usual contractors of the different space agencies in the world, and has great experience working with the International Space Station.