The three companies are Blue Origin, Nanoracks, and Northrop Grumman, which will be awarded $ 130, 160, and $ 125.6 million, respectively.
The company Axiom Space had already won a similar contract of 140 million US dollars last year.
We are partnering with American companies to develop space destinations that people can visit, where they can live and work., welcomed in a statement the boss of NASA, Bill Nelson.
NASA strongly encourages the privatization of low orbit in order to save money and focus on exploration missions further afield, to the Moon and Mars.
The future of the International Space Station is officially assured until 2024, and NASA has confirmed that it can technically operate until 2028. Bill Nelson has spoken in favor of its extension until 2030.
The goal is then that the private stations take over, putting an end to the current international cooperation on the SSI, especially with Russia.
will help ensure a continuous human presence in low orbit in the United StatesPhil McAlister, director of commercial flights for NASA, told a press conference.
A hole [dans cette présence] would be damaging.
Hire the services of private companies
The American space agency wants in the future to be able to hire the services of private companies for its needs, without having to finance the operating costs of a station.
She estimates that she will need to be able to send two astronauts into orbit continuously, and perform some 200 experiments per year.
Blue Origin’s station, developed with Sierra Space, is called Orbital Reef. It must be able to accommodate up to 10 people, and serve a variety of actors: tourists, businesses, or public actors.
That of Nanoracks, called Starlab, aims for a take-off in 2027.
Northrop Grumman is still working on a name, but also plans areas for science or tourism.
Axiom’s project is a little different: a module must first be attached to the SSI, before the station detaches from it to become independent.
No company has given an estimate for the price of developing these stations. Corn
the amount invested today by NASA to launch this program is small compared to the money that will be required, said Brent Sherwood of Blue Origin.
The agency’s contribution to these projects does not exceed 40% of the total investment amount, said Phil McAlister.