Key idea: The International Space Station will be replaced by a range of private outposts.
Original author and publication date: Josh Dinner (Space.com) – August 7 2022
Futurizonte Editor’s Note: A private space station… Let’s hope it will work well.
From the article:
Senior officials from companies selected by NASA to develop new low Earth orbit space stations are eager for market input to drive development.
Space industry leaders gathered in Washington, D.C. last week for NASA’s 11th annual International Space Station Research and Development Conference (ISSRDC). A panel in the morning of July 26 included top representatives from four companies selected by NASA to design and develop commercial space stations in low Earth orbit (LEO).
About 20% of JSC’s current workforce is utilized to run the ISS, with another 15% working on commercial crew, according to JSC Director Vanessa Wyche. With such a heavy weight of its focus on ISS, NASA decided to lean into its commercial contract model, and selected private companies to design and develop replacement space stations for the agency’s aging orbital laboratory. This not only opens the door for a wider array of commercial accessibility to LEO, but also frees up some of NASA’s resources for the space agency’s shifting focus to interplanetary exploration through the Artemis program and beyond.
NASA and the companies it selected are counting on a booming market of commercial interest in LEO.
“Our main goal is to have a platform post-ISS that can provide our needs, but can move us into the position where commercial innovation can happen. Different things can start happening in space that wouldn’t happen on a government facility,” NASA’s Angela Hart said during Wednesday’s panel.
Hart serves as the program manager for the agency’s Commercial LEO Development Program Office, at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, which was created to ensure a continuous presence of U.S. astronauts in LEO following the operational end of the International Space Station (ISS), currently scheduled for 2030.
Hart is quick to point out the tremendous amount of research and innovation already to come out of the last decade of science aboard the ISS, its contribution to humanity on Earth, and our understanding of what it takes to explore the stars. Because of these contributions, Hart is adamant that NASA continues to have a presence in LEO.
“A platform to be able to continue to do the science and other research that we’re doing on ISS will absolutely be needed for exploration,” Hart said.