24 thoughts on “Private Space Stations”

  1. “But not everyone agrees there’s a commercial ecosystem that could profitably support even the one space station we’ve got, never mind four private ones. ”

    It will look like nothing is happening and then all of a sudden, things will be very busy. I think this would have happened more or less naturally but the war sure sped things up. ISS is a point of friction holding everything up. Once the sand is removed from the gears, things can run smoother.

    Conceptually, I like what Nanoracks is doing. That is the type of thing you can imagine there being a fleet of operating in all kinds of locations. How many can fit in a SS/SH? There is an unprecedented opportunity for scale.

    Nanoracks looks flexible enough to navigate this but the others are a step behind. It will be cheaper (maybe) to launch four people on a Starship than it is a Falcon 9, and there is so much to do with the excess capacity.

    Axiom will be launching their station just as SpaceX changes the market again. It might be too late to change some of their plans but I hope Axiom and these other companies have a step 2 ready to go that uses this new revolutionary launch capability.

    1. Is this what Rand is getting at with his ELOE stuff?

      Space needs a bus/uber. Stations that handle small numbers of humans wouldn’t merit a visit from a 100 passenger Starship. A port for them to dock and then be distributed to their final destinations makes sense. Who is going to build that in-space taxi?

      Whoever is creative enough to do it with their existing products and minimal changes.

        1. Yes, it is. A Dear Moon-class Starship could act as a bus – a musical group tour bus class of transport – for 20 or so people, drop them off in small groups and pick up a roughly like number of returnees at each of multiple small co-orbital stations and make the per person crew swap price at least an order of magnitude lower than Crew Dragon or Starliner.

          Or, if fitted out airliner fashion, a Starship could carry up to 200 or so passengers, most going to a really big rotating resort station and the rest being rotated to multiple small stations in the same orbit. Roughly equivalent numbers of people would get off and get on at each stop so the “bus” would return to Earth with about the same size passenger complement it took off with, but the people coming back would be an entirely different bunch from those gong up. A Starship of this type could knock an additional zero off the ticket price.

  2. Evil League of Evil? Didn’t think Rand was part of that nefarious gang of writers …

      1. Back in ’64 there was a big bruhaha over the name, which was originally the League of Evil, not being expressive enough. Half wanted Evil League of Evil and the other wanted Evil Legion of Evil to pump up their size and popularity for recruitment.

        It turns out that their recruitment pool is quite small and neither group grew larger than the other and because they spend all their time trying to sabotage each other, they never get to do any cool evil stuff and haven’t been in the media for some time. Sad really, to think of what could have been.

        1. Sith Lords eventually adopted the practice of having only one apprentice. Who apparently advances upon the death of the master. The quicker the rise, the earlier the death. Thus only one person to sabotage to prove one’s chops. It does complicate the issue of establishing a lasting legacy of evil however…

  3. That article ignored the elephant in the room in it’s assumptions IMO and that’s how Starship and the cost per pound to orbit chances the cost calculus.

    We have already seen the effect Falcon has has on the low orbit constellation sat market that couldn’t get it up business-wise in the 90’s.

  4. As far as proposals go, I doubt Orbital Reef will ever fly, though that’s just my bias against Bezos talking. When/if New Glenn flies? Axiom seems a safe bet, though since it’s dependent on ISS still being there between 2024 and 2027, we’ll see. Could be done without ISS, for extra money.

    I think the Nanoracks mini-station might be a good idea. not so much as a LEO lab, but as a small crewed spacecraft (suitably modified for the interplanetary environment) for exploring mear-earth space. You could launch it in the cargo-hold of a Starship, on a lunar free return trajectory, eject it out the hatch, and then (if it worked fine) start your super-PPE and head out for wherever (mainly NEOs). If it didn’t work fine, get back in the Starship and live to fly another day.

    1. Everyone keeps calling the Nanoracks a mini-station. It’s essentially the same size Skylab was because it inflates.

      1. It’s a relative term, I guess. Back in 1971, Salyut-1 was a space station, in fact the only one ever to have existed. So far, Skylab is the only one of its kind ever to have existed. The Nanoracks thing (called Starlab, I think!) is “mini” compared to contemporary and other near future space stations.

        1. It’s called Shooting Star, and may be more valuable than the spaceplane itself. In addition to acting as a cargo bay, and having its own solar panels, it can act as a free flyer, with a docking port on one end and a berthing port on the other, and berthed to ISS (or anything else) could act as a propulsion module and, with some modification, act as an airlock.

  5. It seems one have robotic station for microgravity.
    An artificial gravity station for long stays for people.
    And station which short stay hotel type space station-
    It seems it takes some time [days] to adjust to micro gravity and
    question what are effects microgravity if you stay just 2 weeks of less
    in space. Or if stay for 3 to 6 months, when return to earth one spends
    time recovering, if less than 1 month, how does effect Earth time recovery?
    And it might be good to have 3 different stations, near each other= say a mile away. Could this be done?

    1. That’s asking for trouble. In the same orbit is fine, but you’d want at least 100km between them. Otherwise, subtle differences in orbit will eventually lead to (relatively low speed) collisions.

      1. In era of Mechazilla one might try different things to keep them

        Something fancy like ion engines?

        Though maybe something a long pike poles.
        Nerf harpoons.
        Or something, could be cheaper than xenon.

  6. ELEO is going to be important for fuel depots if the Mars colonization plan comes to fruition. I still don’t know about the things in the extensive discussion I had with Rand several pages back, because I haven’t had time to look carefully at the relative economics of into-plane ground launches vs. large plane change space tugs.

    As far as space station types and uses goes, I just don’t know. Resource nodes like depots, sure. And one or more research stations. Space hotels. I doubt it, but it’s possible. Other than fucking in zero-G, I don’t see the real value. If an orbital hotel stay cost the same as an Antarctic cruise, then sure. “Look! It’s the Earth! Okay, let’s go home.” If I were going to build a space station, it might look like a big (multi-wheel) version of NautilusX, with some kind of propulsion so it could move around a bit. And having built one, you could build dozens, and use them as interplanetary liners.

  7. All this talk about private space stations. Next thing you know they’re constructing gated orbits. Unless you shell out the big bucks we just won’t give you enough fuel to reach the delta-v you’ll need to reach that private space station in a gated orbit!

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