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Starlab Partners with SpaceX to Launch Private Space Laboratory into Orbit
Starlab Partners with SpaceX to Launch Private Space Laboratory into Orbit
by Clarence Oxford
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Feb 01, 2024

In a significant move for the future of private space exploration, Starlab Space, a joint venture between Voyager Space and Airbus, has inked a deal with SpaceX, a leader in space transport services, to launch its commercial space laboratory into low-Earth orbit. This partnership marks a pivotal step in Starlab's ambitions to become a successor to the International Space Station (ISS).

The announcement, made on Wednesday, outlines SpaceX's role in transporting both crew members and unmanned cargo to the Starlab space station. With the capability to house four astronauts at a time, Starlab represents a new frontier in space habitation and research.

Dyland Taylor, Voyager's Chairman and CEO, expressed confidence in SpaceX, citing its "history of success and reliability" as a key reason for choosing the Starship spacecraft for this mission. "SpaceX is the unmatched leader for high-cadence launches and we are proud Starlab will be launched into orbit in a single flight by Starship," Taylor said in a statement.

NASA, which has been encouraging private companies to develop their space stations as the ISS nears decommissioning, has played a pivotal role in this sector's evolution. It awarded $415 million to three companies, including Voyager/Airbus, to develop space station concepts. This funding underscores NASA's commitment to fostering private-sector involvement in space exploration.

Interestingly, Northrop Grumman, another beneficiary of NASA's funding in 2021, has now joined the Starlab initiative. Meanwhile, Blue Origin continues to advance its private lab plans, and Axiom Space is developing its own space lab in collaboration with NASA.

Starlab's decision to partner with SpaceX comes despite some challenges faced by the Starship program. Notably, both test flights of the Starship in April and November ended in what SpaceX described as a "rapid unscheduled disassembly." However, the November test saw the successful detachment of the Starship's booster, signaling progress in the spacecraft's development. The Starship, hailed as the most powerful spaceship ever built, is expected to play a crucial role in future missions to the Moon and Mars.

SpaceX has scheduled a third test flight for the Starship in February.

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