Darrell Etherington @etherington / 8 hours
NASA has been encouraging private industry to replace the aging ISS with a commercial successor for quite a while now, and while Axiom Space has already expressed its intent to do so eventually, a new consortium made up of Nanoracks, Voyager Space and Lockheed Martin now say they’ll create the “first-ever free flying commercial space station” with planned operation to begin in 2027.
The new space station will be called “Starlab,” a name that recalls the third ever U.S. space station, Skylab. Starlab will host a crew of four astronauts, and will be much smaller than the ISS — offering about a third of that station’s total pressurized space for human occupancy. The smaller size means that the group building the station expect it to be able to be sent up to orbit in a single launch, rather than piecemeal in parts like the existing ISS and Chinese space station.