Starlab: First Private Orbital Station

Starlab, or Star Laboratory, is the name of the new space station that will be designed and built in close collaboration between US aerospace company Voyager Space and European industrial giant Airbus. Starlab will be the first privately owned manned Earth-orbit facility. The launch of the station is scheduled for 2028 when the resource of the International Space Station is expected to be completely used up and the its work will be completed. The first element of the ISS, the Russian cargo module Zarya, was launched into orbit in January 1998, so by 2028 the station will have worked in space for 30 years.
Voyager Space, a US venture company and a division of the largest European aerospace concern Airbus Space and Defense, announced the creation of a joint venture that will directly design, build, and in the future manage the operation of Starlab.
The joint venture builds on an agreement signed last January, under which Voyager Space has chosen Airbus to provide the highest level of technical and technological advances in the construction of the future space station. “The US-led joint venture will bring together world-class leaders in the space industry, as well as unite America’s and Europe’s interests in space exploration,” said the press release distributed by Airbus.
In addition to the headquarters located in the USA, the new joint venture will have a strong European branch. Airbus operates numerous enterprises in Europe, which will enable direct access to services of the European Space Agency (ESA), national space agencies, including in Italy, as well as the entire aerospace industry of the Old World.
The size of the stakes between Voyager Space and Airbus in the joint venture, as well as other financial details of the agreement, were not disclosed. Voyager Space also declined to reveal the plans of financing the development and construction of Starlab for the coming years.
It is known that at the end of 2021, Voyager Space won a contract and received $160 million from the US aerospace agency NASA through its subsidiary Nanoracks to develop a new orbital station that is scheduled to launch in 2028. The technical sketches suggest that the Star Lab will be smaller than the ISS. However, the main module will have a larger diameter of approximately 8 meters. According to some sources, the new station will focus on scientific research in minimum gravity state, just like the ISS.
Russia and the United States, despite political tensions, continue to work side by side on the ISS, with the participation of the Japanese space agency JAXA, the Canadian agency CSA, and the European ESA – and have decided to extend the life of the station until 2028. In the past, the Airbus concern, commissioned by the European Space Agency, built the Columbus science module that was delivered into orbit by the American shuttle Atlantis and docked to the ISS on February 11, 2008.