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Updated January 13th, 2024 at 23:20 IST

NASA Awards $100 million To Blue Origin & Voyager Space For Private Space Stations

NASA has committed around $100 million to Blue Origin and Voyager Space which are building Orbital Reef and Skylab to replace the International Space Station.

Harsh Vardhan
NASA
Artist's impression of the Starlab space station. | Image:NASA
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NASA has offered additional funding to private space station developers as the International Space Station (ISS) is set to retire in 2030. The agency has committed around $100 million to Blue Origin and Voyager Space which are building Orbital Reef and Skylab, respectively, as an alternative to the ISS.

In an official statement, NASA said that an additional $42 million has been awarded to Blue Origin in addition to the previous funding of $172 million whereas Starlab was awarded $57.5 million, bringing the total funding to $217.5 million.

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Artist's impression of Orbital Reef. Image: NASA

Notably, Blue Origin has partnered with Sierra Space, Boeing, Amazon, Redwire and a few other firms for building Orbital Reef. It will be installed in the low-Earth orbit (LEO) at an altitude of around 400 km and its first modules will be launched at least after 2025.

The private space stations will be used to ensure humanity's presence in the LEO and carry on the experiments that will aid in missions to Mars and beyond. In order to ensure this presence, NASA launched the Commercial Low Earth Orbit Destinations (CLD) program and has been awarding contracts to private firms to offer space habitats. 

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“The agency is committed to continuing to work with industry with the goal having one or more stations in orbit to ensure competition, lower costs, and meet the demand of NASA and other customers," said Angela Hart, manager of Commercial Low Earth Orbit Development Program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

NASA said that the program's contracts have been modified as the money was transferred from funding offered to Northrop Grumman. Initially, Northrop Grumman was funded by NASA to build a separate space station but withdrew its agreement and will now work with Voyager along with other partners Nanoracks and Lockheed Martin. 

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Published January 13th, 2024 at 23:20 IST

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