In space project news, the ESA, Airbus, and Voyager Space are investigating the Starlab commercial space station as a prospective successor to the ISS.
- The ISS is scheduled for retirement in 2030.
- This is Europe’s strategic move to secure its place in low Earth orbit.
The European Space Agency (ESA), Airbus, and Voyager Space are exploring the potential of the Starlab commercial space station as a successor to the International Space Station (ISS).
Airbus and Voyager Space started their cooperation on their private version of the ISS back in August. Fast forward to now, and all three entities signed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) during the European Space Summit in Seville, Spain.
The ISS is set to retire in 2030 after being up there since 1998. So, they are studying the use of the Starlab space station for European space missions and research activities. The agreement will also see ESA providing cargo and crew transportation services for Starlab.
In a blog post on the ESA website, ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher said, “ESA appreciates the transatlantic industry initiative for the Starlab commercial space station, and the potential that its strong European footprint holds for significant European industrial and institutional contributions to, and use of, said station. Our teams are looking forward to working closely with the Starlab teams here in Europe and in the US.”
The ISS is a collaboration between 5 space agencies that belong to 5 different countries. Those are the U.S., Russia, Japan, Europe, and Canada. One of the reasons for the ISS retirement seems to be a lack of political will to keep it in order. So, it is safe to say that this move on the ESA’s part secures Europe’s presence in low Earth orbit.
Others try and figure out different arrangements. But the ESA will continue their scientific research, technological development, and other space-related activities.
When you look at it more closely, this MOU is proof that the ESA is aligning itself with the growing trend of commercialization in space exploration. For decades, the thought of a regular person going to space was a fantasy. But as we advance our space technology, that fantasy is slowly increasingly looking like reality.
Now, factor in who Airbus and Voyager Space are. You’ll see that this agreement also positions Europe as a leader in this era of commercial space exploration. European astronauts, researchers, and businesses will seek the ESA for their activities in microgravity.
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