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We previously covered how Nanoracks is cooperating with Abu Dhabi to research the use of space tech to grow crops in inhospitable areas. The company aims to make space available to the commercial market. On October 21st, they announced they had found partners for another goal on their quest: commercial space stations.
The partners for this collaboration are their current majority owner, Voyager Space and Lockheed Martin. This specific collaboration covers the creation of a space station called Starlab, where Nanoracks is the primary contractor while Voyager Space handles strategy and Lockheed Martin handles manufacture and technical integration.
The companies state that the station could be operational as soon as 2027. And perhaps this collaboration happening right now isn't a coincidence: earlier this year, NASA launched the Commercial Low Earth Orbit Destinations (CLD) program. Said program will provide funding for studying commercial space stations and certify them to be used by NASA astronauts.
Starlab – the new space station
The station itself will consist of a large, inflatable habitat, a metal docking section, and a 60kW power and propulsion element. Said habitat seems spacious, with an intended volume of 340 cubic meters. Nanoracks intend to give the station a regenerative Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS).
At slightly below half the size of the International Space Station, it'll be able to host four astronauts at any given time and feature what's claimed to be a state-of-the-art laboratory.