NASA Rejected Relativity Space’s Plan for Commercial LEO Space Station

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Relativity Space unsuccessfully applied for NASA funding to begin work on a commercial space station under the space agency’s Commercial LEO Destinations (CLD) program, according to a newly released government document.

The space agency awarded $415.6 million for space station proposals from Blue Origin, Nanoracks and Northrop Grumman. The commercial stations are designed to provide the United States with uninterrupted access to Earth orbit when the International Space Station is retired in 2030.

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NASA Rejected Commercial Space Station Proposals from Maverick Space, Orbital Assembly and ThinkOrbital

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA rejected space station development proposals from Maverick Space Systems, Orbital Assembly Corporation (OAC) and ThinkOrbital, according to a newly released document.

The three companies were competing for funding under the space agency’s Commercial LEO Destinations (CLD) program. The effort is focused on the development of private commercial space stations that will provide the the United States with uninterrupted access to Earth orbit when the International Space Station (ISS) is retired in 2030.

NASA awarded $415.6 million for space station proposals from Blue Origin, Nanoracks and Northrop Grumman under the CLD program. The space agency also rejected proposals from SpaceX and Relativity Space.

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A Closer Look at Blue Origin’s Orbital Reef Commercial Space Station

Orbital Reef commercial space station (Credit: Orbital Reef)

NASA has released the selection statement that lays out the space agency’s reasoning for awarding Nanoracks, Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman a total of $415.6 million to develop plans for private space stations under the Commercial LEO Destinations (CLD) program. The facilities are designed to maintain a permanent U.S. presence in Earth orbit when the International Space Station (ISS) is retired in 2030.

In this story, we’ll look at the Blue Origin’s Orbital Reef station. The project summary is drawn from publicly available information. Excerpts from the selection statement follow. Long paragraphs in the latter have been broken up to improve readability. Acronyms have been spelled out for the sake of clarity.

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A Closer Look at Northrop Grumman Commercial Space Station

Northrop Grumman’s free flyer commercial destination design leverages flight proven elements to provide the base module for extended capabilities including science, tourism, industrial experimentation, and building of infrastructure beyond initial design. (Credits: Northrop Grumman)

NASA has released the selection statement that lays out the space agency’s reasoning for awarding Nanoracks, Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman a total of $415.6 million to develop plans for private space stations under the Commercial LEO Destinations (CLD) program. The facilities are designed to maintain a permanent U.S. presence in Earth orbit when the International Space Station (ISS) is retired in 2030.

In this story, we’ll look at the Northrop Grumman’s station. The project summary is drawn from publicly available information. Excerpts from the selection statement follow. Long paragraphs in the latter have been broken up to improve readability. Acronyms have been spelled out for the sake of clarity.

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SpaceX Proposed Adapting Human Landing System into a Commercial Space Station

Artist concept of the SpaceX Starship on the surface of the Moon. (Credits: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

SpaceX unsuccessfully applied for NASA funding to begin work on adapting the Human Landing System (HLS) it is building to send American astronauts to the lunar surface into a commercial Earth orbiting space station, according to a newly released government document.

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A Closer Look at Nanoracks’ Starlab Commercial Space Station

Starlab, a commercial low-Earth orbit space station is being planned for use by 2027. (Credit: Nanoracks)

NASA has released the selection statement that lays out the space agency’s reasoning for awarding Nanoracks, Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman a total of $415.6 million to develop plans for private space stations under the Commercial LEO Destinations (CLD) program. The facilities are designed to maintain a permanent U.S. presence in Earth orbit when the International Space Station (ISS) is retired in 2030.

In this story, we’ll look at the Nanoracks’ Starlab station. The project summary is drawn from publicly available information. Excerpts from the selection statement follow. Long paragraphs in the latter have been broken up to improve readability. Acronyms have been spelled out for the sake of clarity.

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NASA Selects Orbital Reef to Develop International Space Station Replacement

Orbital Reef commercial space station (Credit: Orbital Reef)

Louisville, Colo., December 2, 2021 (Sierra Space PR) — Orbital Reef, led by partners Blue Origin and Sierra Space, was selected today by NASA for a funded Space Act Agreement for collaboration to design a commercially owned and operated space station in low Earth orbit (LEO). NASA’s Commercial LEO Development program aims to shift NASA’s research and exploration activities in LEO to commercial space stations, helping stimulate a growing space economy before the International Space Station is retired. The Orbital Reef team includes  BoeingRedwire SpaceGenesis Engineering Solutions, and Arizona State University.

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NASA Space Operations Budget Request Fact Sheet

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle begins its separation from the station after undocking from the Harmony module’s international docking adapter. (Credit: NASA TV)

NASA FACT SHEET
FY 2022 Budget Request
Space Operations
($ Millions)

The FY 2022 Budget for the Space Operations account consists of four areas: International Space Station (ISS), Space Transportation, Space and Flight Support (SFS), and Commercial LEO Development.

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Democratizing Space, One Billionaire at a Time: The Return of Space Tourism

They’re baaack! Tourists will return to space this year after a 12-year hiatus. Above, the first space tourist, billionaut Dennis Tito (left), poses with Soyuz TM-32 crew mates Talgat Musabayev, and Yuri Baturin in 2001. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Democratization has a set of fundamental elements to it. It involves giving the people the power to choose their leaders. It means making a political system accountable to those people. It’s creating a government and culture that respect the freedoms laid out in the First Amendment: speech, assembly, religion, press and the right to peacefully petition the government for change. It’s not just changing how the government operates, but how the society functions.

The last thing I ever expected democratization to include are joy rides into space by millionaires and billionaires. But, that’s what NewSpace spinmeisters would have us believe as space tourism returns this year after a 12-year hiatus. They really should stop.

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NASA Plans Awards on Commercial Space Stations Later this Year

Credit: NASA

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA recently outlined its plans to continue its human presence in low Earth orbit (LEO) as it sends astronauts back to the moon and decommissions the International Space Station later in the 2020s. This slides in this story are from an industry briefing.

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