NASA announced on Thursday it has awarded $415.6 million to billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, stalwart contractor Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N) and venture-backed Nanoracks to develop privately-owned and operated commercial space stations, as the iconic actual International Space Station potentially retires at the end of the decade. Blue Origin sees Orbital Reef as a hub for commercial industries such as manufacturing, entertainment, sports, gaming and adventure travel. It will also be a home for crewed and cargo missions by Boeing’s Starliner capsule and Sierra Space’s Dream Chaser spaceplane.
Houston-based Nanoracks won the largest award, at $160 million, for the Starlab space station it is building with Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) and Voyager Space, with operations set to begin in 2027. Our station will enable … sustainable commercial-based missions where NASA does not bear all the costs, but serves as one of many customers,” said Northrop Grumman vice president. This investition is demonstrating a new dimension of NASA’s interests for space hubs facilitating its activities, this time based and extending the collaboration with private companies.It’s also possibly a formula for the major projects to follow because the agency is interested to reduce their huge cost.