Starlab commercial space station artist's render. Credits: Starlab Space LLC

Starlab Space Selects SpaceX’s Starship for Its Launch

Starlab Space taps SpaceX's Starship for the launch of its space station to low-Earth orbit later this decade, marking a milestone in both companies' journey

Starlab Space LLC, a joint venture between Voyager Space and Airbus, has revealed its partnership with SpaceX for an historic mission – the launch of the Starlab commercial space station to low-Earth orbit (LEO) onboard the Starship rocket.

Starlab commercial space station artist's render. Credits: Starlab Space LLC
Starlab commercial space station artist’s render. Credits: Starlab Space LLC

SpaceX’s Starship, a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars and beyond, will have the honor of launching this mission.

The financial details of the launch contract between Starlab Space and SpaceX remain undisclosed. However, the project has secured funding under NASA’s Commercial LEO Destinations program, with Voyager and Airbus currently undergoing design reviews alongside the Agency.


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The selection

SpaceX has gained a reputation for high-cadence launches and unmatched reliability. Dylan Taylor, Chairman and CEO of Voyager Space, expressed confidence in SpaceX’s track record.

“SpaceX’s history of success and reliability led our team to select Starship to orbit Starlab,” he said in a statement on Wednesday, adding: “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.”

Starship clears the launch pad. Credits: SpaceX
Starship clears the launch pad during its second flight test in November 2023. Credits: SpaceX

Starlab, a continuously crewed, free-flying space station, aims to cater to a diverse clientele, including space agencies, researchers, and companies. This initiative aims also to ensure a sustained human presence in LEO, in a hopefully seamless transition of microgravity research from the aging International Space Station to the new commercial space station era.

This future space station, fully outfitted on the ground, is set to host a crew of four members for extended periods, focusing on microgravity research and scientific discovery.

Tom Ochinero, Senior Vice President of Commercial Business at SpaceX, underlined the revolutionary nature of this single-launch solution, emphasizing its role in shaping the future of commercial space. “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,” Ochinero stated.


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Starlab’s milestones

Over the past year, the Starlab team has achieved multiple milestones, including the completion of the Systems Requirements Review, System Definition Review, and Human in the Loop testing.

Moreover, the recent teaming agreement with Northrop Grumman and collaboration plans with the European Space Agency underscore the strategic alliances shaping Starlab’s journey. Noteworthy partners in the Starlab project include also Hilton Hotels and The Ohio State University, reflecting the broad spectrum of interest and support for this pioneering initiative.

Starlab hopes to not be a short-term project; its design focuses on the long-term, with the habitat expected to last up to 30 years in orbit. The commitment to microgravity research in space is evident, positioning Starlab as a key player in advancing our understanding of the cosmos.


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Edoardo Giammarino

Edoardo Giammarino

Co-Founder & Administrator. Drummer and Red Cross Volunteer, born in 1997. I like analog photography and videomaking. Firmly music-addicted.

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