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NASA selects Blue Origin, Nanoracks and Northrop Grumman to develop the next-generation commercial space station

Blue Origin Orbital Reef

As NASA will launch the work of astronauts, the private company’s plan has been successful (in fact, strictly speaking, it is a partial success-although SpaceX has been fixed in launching astronauts into space, the Starliner side is still continuing. Delayed), NASA also plans to use the same method to handle the future successor to the International Space Station after its decommissioning. In contrast to the International Space Station, which is completely dominated by national space agencies, the future space station will be launched and operated by private companies, and NASA will play a similar role as a “tenant” among them, paying these private companies to use private companies. Space and equipment on the space station.

In order to ensure that future private space stations meet the needs, NASA has launched a contract called “Commercial LEO Development” to help private companies build space stations while also ensuring the size and equipment of the space station. It can meet the research and training needs of NASA in the future. Earlier, NASA announced the three companies entering the first phase of the contract, namely Blue Origin, Nanoracks and Northrop Grumman. The three will receive 130 million, 160 million and 126 million US dollars in grants to assist in the design of the new space station.

Blue Origin Orbital Reef

Blue Origin Orbital Reef

Among them, Blue Origin is probably the most familiar one, and what they proposed is the Orbital Reef that was made public at the end of October. They will cooperate with Sierra Nevada and Boeing. Blue Origin will build the main core of the space station and modules related to power and resources. Sierra Nevada will provide life modules, while Boeing will use Starliner to provide manned services to and from the space station. Orbital Reef is the most ambitious of the three projects, and has excellent scalability, but it is also the most difficult of the three in terms of development difficulty.

Nanorack Starlab

Nanorack Starlab

Nanoracks found Voyager Space and Lockheed Martin and launched a space station called “Starlab”. Relatively speaking, the structure of Starlab is much simpler, consisting of a power and power module, plus an inflatable manned cabin. However, Nanoracks claims that the inflatable capsule has an internal space similar to that of the current International Space Station after deployment, and relatively speaking, there are not many Starlab modules, so the development should be much simpler.

Northrop Grumman Space Station

Northrop Grumman Space Station

Finally, Northrop Grumman’s design can be said to be the most “traditional” and most similar to the current International Space Station. It is composed of several “rigid” cylindrical capsules, and the design also extends to its own existing lunar space. Power components for stations and MEVs. Of course, Northrop Grumman will not let go of this opportunity, by the way, promote the Cygnus cargo spacecraft.

In addition to these three, the cooperation between NASA and Axiom will also continue. The difference between Axiom and other participants is that they will use the existing International Space Station as the basis. First, they will use the space station’s power and life support system, but add their own space until the future extension of Axiom is available. Once you have your own power and life support system, you can cut off the connection with the International Space Station and become an independent space station.

The first phase of the commercial low-orbit development plan is expected to last until 2025, during which time NASA and the three selected companies will conduct more detailed design planning. The three companies all plan to launch at least part of the space station components by 2030, but it’s not surprising how the delays are due to space-related development plans.

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