As the International Space Station nears the end of its life, SpaceX and Los Angeles-based startup Vast have unveiled a plan to launch the first commercial space station.
SpaceX will use a Falcon 9 rocket to send the station’s main module, Haven-1, into low-Earth orbit as early as August 2025.
Haven-1 will be joined a short while later by the larger Vast-1 module, followed by a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft with four astronauts aboard.
The crew will then live and work aboard the main station for around 30 days before returning to Earth in the Crew Dragon capsule.
“A commercial rocket launching a commercial spacecraft with commercial astronauts to a commercial space station is the future of low-Earth orbit, and with Vast, we’re taking another step toward making that future a reality,” SpaceX executive Tom Ochinero said in a release.
Vast — founded in 2021 as a specialist in space habitation technologies — will sell all four of the seats on the maiden mission, with customers expected to include domestic and international space agencies and private individuals involved in science and philanthropic projects. Pricing has yet to be revealed.
SpaceX will provide the four crewmembers with training for the Crew Dragon flight aboard the Falcon 9, as well as for the journey home inside the spacecraft.
With the International Space Station heading for decommissioning in 2031, private firms are planning to step in with their own stations so that astronauts can continue living and working in low-Earth orbit.
Blue Origin, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, is aiming to launch the Orbital Reef facility by 2030, while Voyager Space, Lockheed Martin, and Nanoracks hope to deploy the Starlab station in 2027. And there’s Axiom, too, which could launch its space station at around the same time as Vast. Airbus, too, recently unveiled a concept design that could one day find itself in orbit. However, it’s worth noting that due to the huge complexity of these projects, deployment dates could well slip.
Vast said that its long-term goal is to deploy a “100-meter-long, multi-module, spinning, artificial gravity space station” launched by SpaceX’s Starship rocket, but that’s definitely a ways off as SpaceX’s vehicle has yet to achieve its first orbital flight.
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