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Title    NASA Looks to Private Outposts to Build on International Space Station's Legacy
Date    Thursday August 04, @10:08PM
Author    hubie
from the build-it-and-the-government-contracts-will-come dept.

upstart writes:

But the ISS isn't done yet — far from it, in fact:

The International Space Station (ISS) is entering its golden years, but activities aboard the orbiting lab aren't slowing down — just the opposite, in fact.

The ISS can't fly forever, however, and NASA officials envision a diverse market of commercial space stations taking its place as demand for access to low Earth orbit (LEO) continues to increase.

[...] Northrop Grumman, Axiom Space, Nanoracks and Sierra Space are all private companies with plans to construct their own space stations. NASA wants at least one of them to be on orbit before the ISS retires, a timeline the companies are targeting as well.

"The commercial LEO destination partners we are working with today have plans to be operational as early as 2027," Gatens said.

[...] Roberts expects a diverse availability of private space stations, unique in their designs and specialized in their abilities, saying, "Each of these commercial LEO destination companies, the four [Northrop Grumman, Axiom Space, Nanoracks and Sierra Space] are going to be looking at ways to address different needs from different consumers out there ... Each of those companies is likely to take slightly different approaches to designing and operating their stations. And that's going to have, I think, an extremely beneficial value."

Roberts sees a day when NASA is less invested in space stations and more invested in science aboard space stations. "While there needs to be continued strong support from governments, we at National Lab and NASA and other agencies are also working towards that day when they are purely commercial-driven, so that the consumer will drive what's accessible in space and what's needed there," he said. "And that ... will drive acceleration in the pace of discovery in that environment."

With over 20 years of expertise building and operating a space station, NASA is offering whatever insight it can to companies to utilize their on-orbit experience. "NASA is not dictating how that hardware is going to be built," said Costello, "but we do hope that you benefit from those lessons learned." He also points out the additional eight years of life the ISS still has ahead (provided the other partners officially endorse the 2030 timeline) and hopes the station's facilities continue to improve.

"We're looking at capabilities that we can enable on ISS, but with a mindset towards portability," Costello said, "to move those onto CLDs [commercial LEO destinations] in the future, so that we can continue the NASA research and the National Lab research that takes advantage of those research facilities on the ISS in a future program."

Original Submission


  1. "upstart" -
  2. "But the ISS isn't done yet — far from it, in fact" -
  3. "commercial space stations" -
  4. "Axiom Space" -
  5. "Original Submission" -

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printed from SoylentNews, NASA Looks to Private Outposts to Build on International Space Station's Legacy on 2022-08-17 05:11:58