SpaceX to launch Starlab

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SpaceX has signed a deal to launch Starlab, a private space station being developed by Voyager Space and Airbus, on its Starship rocket. The launch is targeted for as early as 2028. Starlab is one of several commercial space stations currently in development by U.S. companies, as NASA prepares to retire the International Space Station (ISS) in 2030. Starlab's modules are designed to be about 26 feet in diameter, which is around twice the diameter of ISS modules. This limits the number of rockets that could support launching the space station in one mission. Voyager Chairman and CEO Dylan Taylor believes launching all of Starlab at once on Starship is the most efficient approach. The Starship rocket is not yet operational and has not reached orbit. However, SpaceX conducted two test flights last year. The space station will be fully outfitted on the ground and ready to permanently host four crew members to conduct microgravity research. The Starship rocket is the biggest and most powerful rocket ever built, capable of hauling up to 150 tons to low Earth orbit. The Starship will send the fully outfitted Starlab up in just one launch. The Starlab project aims to fill a void being left by the International Space Station, which was conceived in the 1990s and is now set to retire in 2030. In 2021, NASA awarded $160 million in funding toward Starlab. The financial details of the launch contract between Starlab Space and SpaceX remain undisclosed.
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