The next-generation, privately operated space station, Starlab, will be built as a replacement for NASA’s International Space Station (ISS) in an innovative partnership between the American aerospace company Voyager Space and Europe’s Airbus Defence and Space. This collaborative initiative, which emphasizes the spirit of international cooperation, carries on the long legacy of cooperative American and European efforts in the realm of space exploration.
Matthew Kuta, President of Voyager Space, expressed his pride in charting the future of space stations with Airbus, acknowledging the unparalleled success of the ISS as a platform for international collaboration. Starlab, backed by a $160 million award from NASA through its subsidiary Nanoracks, is poised to carry on this legacy while also opening new opportunities for commercial users. The project plans to include both a US entity and a European joint venture subsidiary to cater directly to the European Space Agency (ESA) and its member state space agencies.
Jean-Marc Nasr, Head of Space Systems at Airbus, highlighted the company’s commitment to partnering with forward-thinking entities. The transatlantic venture, spanning both sides of the ocean, aligns the interests of Airbus, Voyager, and their respective space agencies, furthering the pioneering tradition of European and American leadership in space exploration.
The development of Starlab reached a significant milestone with the completion of the Systems Requirements Review (SRR) in June 2023. This comprehensive review established major space systems, ensured technical readiness, and compliance with NASA’s mission and safety requirements, solidifying the project’s path forward.
Starlab is envisioned as a continuously crewed, free-flying space station, serving not only NASA but also a diverse customer base of space agencies and researchers worldwide. With the primary objective of maintaining a human presence and upholding American leadership in low-Earth orbit (LEO), Starlab holds great promise for the future of space exploration.
The new partnership represents a key step towards the replacement of the aging ISS. By harnessing the expertise and capabilities of both Voyager and Airbus, Starlab is poised to become an unmatched space destination, technologically advanced and operationally efficient.
Matthew Kuta expressed his enthusiasm for the future of commercial space destinations and the trust NASA has placed in their partnership to build the ISS replacement. The joint venture’s implementation is subject to regulatory approvals, but the collaboration between Voyager Space and Airbus brings optimism for the advancement of the space station in the months and years ahead.
As Starlab emerges as a potential game-changer in space exploration, it strengthens the ties between American and European space initiatives. The US-led venture between Voyager and Airbus serves as a testament to the collaborative spirit that underpins human progress beyond our planet. With the world eagerly watching, Starlab may soon take its place among the stars, ushering in a new era of space exploration and discovery.