As the age of the International Space Station (ISS) is increasing day by day, NASA announced this week that it has projected dozens of private companies to develop their space station in Earth’s low orbit. A move that will save NASA $1billion to $1.5billion a year and also the agency will be able to focus more on deep space exploration projects.
It seems that Earth’s lower orbit is becoming a new sphere of real estate. NASA expects to halt its International Space Station as this decade will come to an end. Thus the agency wants private firms to build their own space station that will help lower Earth’s orbit projects. This will end the years of grace for ISS and also for those publicly funded projects or operated space missions in orbit.
As per a report from CNBC, with the end of ISS, space agency NASA probably save around $1billion that will be further be used in deep space missions to the moon mars, and other parts of the universe. Director of Commercial Spaceflight Phil McAlister in the CNBC report says that NASA received many proposals from different companies for getting the space station contracts.
“We are making steep progress in developing the commercial space station where people can do their work and live,” he said.
NASA is seeking to retire ISS by the 2020s so that vacancy will be created which will allow private firms to fill their space station in vacant space.
Earlier in 2021, NASA revealed the Commercial LEO Destinations, a project, looking to provide $400 million in total contracts to four companies, and those companies will begin the development of a totally new generation of space stations, as per CNBC report.
Many companies applied for this, as McAlister in the report said, “We got an amazing response from industry to our announcement for proposals for commercial, free fliers that go directly to orbit.”
The ISS is now more than 20 years old and NASA sees it as an opportunity to retire the space station. ISS consumes about $4 billion every year for its operations and maintenance. It has the approval to last until 2024 but it seems that it will remain there until 2028.
Thus NASA will not remain a unilateral supplier of space infrastructure. But in the future agency will intend to be a user instead of the primary sponsor and infrastructure supporter. McAlister remarked that, “The strong industry response showed us that our plan is very strong and helpful for the future.”
NASA will probably announce the contract winners by the end of this year or after a few times. Different groups of companies applied. It includes the startups while colossal aerospace firms also.
Obviously, there will be billionaires like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and their respective companies SpaceX (which even planning to build special spacecraft for space tourism only) and Blue Origin on the list.
McAlister said that upcoming space stations could be very large. And whose current example is Orbital Assembly Corporation which is seeking to build a huge spinning station that will contain habitats, science labs, and will be 650ft in diameter.