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SpaceX to launch Starlab commercial space station

The station features a large habitation and laboratory module with a smaller service module attached to it for power and propulsion.
Photo Credit: Voyager Space

Starlab Space, the joint venture between Voyager Space and Airbus, has announced SpaceX as the selected launch provider for its Starlab commercial space station, destined for low-Earth orbit (LEO). The deployment will occur in a single mission, utilising SpaceX’s Starship—a fully reusable transportation system designed for crew and cargo missions to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars, and beyond. This launch will precede the planned decommissioning of the International Space Station.

Dylan Taylor, Chairman and CEO of Voyager Space, said: “SpaceX’s history of success and reliability led our team to select Starship to orbit Starlab. SpaceX is the unmatched leader for high-cadence launches and we are proud Starlab will be launched to orbit in a single flight by Starship.”

Starlab, envisaged as a continuously crewed free-flying space station, aims to cater to a global clientele including space agencies, researchers, and companies. This initiative ensures a sustained human presence in LEO, facilitating a smooth transition of microgravity research from the International Space Station to the emerging era of commercial space stations. Starlab will be fully equipped on the ground and launched in a single flight, capable of accommodating four crew members for extended stays in LEO, focusing on microgravity research and scientific exploration.

Tom Ochinero, Senior Vice President of Commercial Business at SpaceX, added: “Starlab’s single-launch solution continues to demonstrate not only what is possible, but how the future of commercial space is happening now. The SpaceX team is excited for Starship to launch Starlab to support humanity’s continued presence in low-Earth orbit on our way to making life multi-planetary.”

Starlab Space has made significant strides in its programme milestones, completing the Systems Requirements Review, System Definition Review, Human in the Loop testing, and more over the past year. In a recent development, Starlab Space entered a teaming agreement with Northrop Grumman and announced plans for collaboration with the European Space Agency. Notable partners for the Starlab project also include Hilton Hotels and The Ohio State University.