SpaceX has teamed up with startup Voyager Space and Airbus to deliver a private space station dubbed Starlab into orbit using a single Starship rocket.
It's an ambitious plan, and the companies have yet to announce a projected launch date. However, Starlab Space claims it's confident in getting its station off the ground before 2030, the year NASA plans to decommission the International Space Station.
The news comes after Voyager Space and Airbus announced the joint Starlab venture on January 9. Now, with the backing of Elon Musk's private space company, the companies are hoping to get a big leg up on their way into orbit.
"SpaceX's history of success and reliability led our team to select Starship to orbit Starlab," said Voyager Space CEO Dylan Taylor in a press release. "SpaceX is the unmatched leader for high-cadence launches and we are proud Starlab will be launched to orbit in a single flight by Starship."
Orbital Lab 2.0
Starlab is meant to pick up where the ISS left off, providing a "global customer base of space agencies, researchers, and companies" with a "continued human presence in [low-Earth orbit]," per the statement.
The entire venture does, however, rely entirely on SpaceX's gigantic Starship launch platform. As SpaceNews points out, thanks to its considerable size — it measures roughly 26 feet across — only Starship is powerful enough to hoist the space station into orbit in one piece.
At least, that's the plan on paper. SpaceX has yet to prove the viability of its mega launch platform, and its two orbital launch attempts so far have ended in massive explosions. A third flight test is slated for sometime this year.
Starship is also planned to play an integral role in NASA's efforts to return astronauts to the surface of the Moon later this decade.
Despite some considerable hurdles ahead, SpaceX is optimistic about launching Starlab.
"Starlab’s single-launch solution continues to demonstrate not only what is possible, but how the future of commercial space is happening now," said SpaceX commercial business senior VP Tom Ochinero in a statement. "The SpaceX team is excited for Starship to launch Starlab to support humanity’s continued presence in low-Earth orbit on our way to making life multiplanetary."