SpaceX has officially been selected as the company that will launch the first commercial space station into low Earth orbit (LEO). Starlab Space LLC, a transatlantic joint venture between Voyager Space and Airbus, will use Starship, which will launch Starlab in a single flight.
Starship, SpaceX’s fully reusable transportation system, is designed to carry crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars, and beyond. The largest rocket in human history will launch Starlab on a single mission before the International Space Station retires. The announcement was made Wednesday in a company press release.
“SpaceX’s history of success and reliability led our team to select Starship to orbit Starlab,” said Dylan Taylor, Chairman and CEO of Voyager Space. “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.”
Until recently, the International Space Station (ISS) was humanity’s only manned outpost in space. However, the world situation has changed. In 2021, China began construction of its own station and has already put it into operation. On the other hand, relations with Russia, one of the main partners of the ISS, have deteriorated, which introduces uncertainty and tension in the future of the project. In addition, the ISS’s reliable operation is also reaching its expiration date.
As a free-flying space station with a permanent crew, Starlab will serve a global customer base of space agencies, researchers, and companies, ensuring a permanent human presence in LEO and a smooth transition of microgravity research from the ISS to a new commercial platform. With the help of SpaceX Starship, Starlab will be launched in one flight. It will be fully equipped on the ground. The space station is poised to permanently station four crew members in Earth orbit to conduct microgravity research and cutting-edge scientific discoveries.
“Starlab’s single-launch solution continues to demonstrate not only what is possible, but how the future of commercial space is happening now,” said Tom Ochinero, Senior Vice President of Commercial Business at SpaceX. “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 multiplanetary.”