NASA signs agreements with three companies to build new space stations

NASA has awarded a total of $415.6 million in contracts to private companies to work on designs for new commercial space stations.

Published Tue, Dec 7 2021 3:00 AM CST   |   Updated Fri, Dec 31 2021 12:45 AM CST

NASA has signed agreements with three separate U.S. companies to develop private commercial space stations.

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Northrop Grumman's space station concept.

Blue Origin, Nanoracks, and Northrop Grumman have all been awarded contracts worth a combined $415.6 million. They come as part of NASA's Commercial Low Earth Orbit Destinations (CLD) program, which seeks to help the development of private space stations that may one day succeed the aging International Space Station (ISS).

"Building on our successful initiatives to partner with private industry to deliver cargo, and now our NASA astronauts, to the International Space Station, NASA is once again leading the way to commercialize space activities. With commercial companies now providing transportation to low Earth orbit in place, we are partnering with U.S. companies to develop the space destinations where people can visit, live, and work, enabling NASA to continue forging a path in space for the benefit of humanity while fostering commercial activity in space," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

NASA expects to retire the ISS by the decade's end, so viable replacements will be necessary. Funding for the ISS is expected to continue through 2024, with the possibility for extensions to 2028 or 2030 if it remains safely operable. NASA intends to help the chosen companies realize their designs by 2025, after which it will certify one or more for use by NASA astronauts.

Northrop Grumman was awarded a $125.6 million contract for their station. Nanoracks, in collaboration with Voyager Space and Lockheed Martin, was awarded $160 million. Blue Origin, leading a partnership with Boeing, Redwire, and Sierra Space, was awarded $130 million.

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Nanoracks' concept space station named Starlab, targeted for 2027 completion.

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Concept for the Orbital Reef space station by Blue Origin.

Adam grew up watching his dad play Turok 2 and Age of Empires on a PC in his computer room, and learned a love for video games through him. Adam was always working with computers, which helped build his natural affinity for working with them, leading to him building his own at 14, after taking apart and tinkering with other old computers and tech lying around. Adam has always been very interested in STEM subjects, and is always trying to learn more about the world and the way it works.

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