NASA to Retire the ISS, Reviews Private Space Station Proposals30th Sep 2021
NASA‘s ISS has become a symbol of humanity’s international spirit of exploration. The project is a collaboration between five space agencies: US NASA, Russian Roscosmos, Japanese JAXA, European Space Agency, and CSA (Canada). Moving forward, NASA representatives have shared that the space agency is looking to decommission the ISS and turn to manufacture and private space stations monitoring.
The ISS will be decommissioned by the end of the decade
The International Space Station is approved to operate at full capacity through the end of 2024. With sufficient lifespan expansions and upgrades, the station can operate fine until 2028. Keeping the station operation past its expiration date could prove dangerous for astronauts. Currently, NASA is spending $4 billion a year to keep the station operational. By switching to a private space station model, the space agency hopes to save roughly $1 billion per year in costs.
NASA reviewing applications: the rise of the public-private model
Following NASA’s announcement, private organisations such as SpaceX, Rocket Lab, Blue Origin, Airbus, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin submitted proposals to serve as manufacturers of components, rockets, and various technologies on behalf of NASA. The Commercial LEO Destinations project will contract up to four companies to begin the immediate development of private space station prototypes. The contract is valued at $400 million.
According to McAlister, director of commercial spaceflight at NASA shared, the agency has gotten a strong response from industry leaders and is now reviewing proposals for commercial launches to orbit.
Using the “private-public” model of building the new ISS will allow NASA to lower costs across the board. The majority of parts and tech will be provided in-house, but the company expects to outsource a large portion of its hardware construction needs to other companies.
McAlister adds that NASA and ISS reformation create a sweet spot for sharing resources, risks, and responsibilities.