The developers of a private space station called Starlab plan to use SpaceX’s Starship craft to send it up into Earth’s orbit. 

Starlab is a project from Voyager Space and Airbus, which are among the companies trying to operate a commercial space station before the decade ends. On Wednesday, Voyager Space and Airbus announced they’ll use SpaceX’s Starship to fly up the space station in Earth’s low orbit through a “single mission.”

The companies have previously said they’re targeting a 2028 launch date for Starlab, a commercial facility with room for researchers, space agencies, and private firms. Hotel giant Hilton is designing the lodging and hospitality across the space station. 

Concept image of Starlab's interiors.

(Credit: Starlab LLC)

Voyager Space and Airbus are now betting SpaceX’s Starship craft will be ready for commercial flights within four years to take Starlab up into orbit. SpaceX has already conducted two flight tests using Starship, but in both instances, the craft exploded in the air. The company is now preparing a third test flight, possibly as soon as next month. 

In response to the Starlab news, SpaceX tweeted: “Starship will fundamentally change how we access space, with entire space stations like Starlab launched on a single mission.” The company has designed Starship to be its largest rocket, capable of taking not only larger payloads, but also humans to Mars and beyond.  

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As for Starlab, the project promises to fill a void being left by the International Space Station, which was conceived in the 1990s and is now set to retire in 2030. In 2021, NASA awarded $160 million in funding toward Starlab.

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin is also working on its own station called Orbital Reef, with the various components scheduled to launch into Earth’s orbit in 2027. Meanwhile, SpaceX itself has been exploring developing its own space station project as well.

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Private Space Station Starlab to Launch Via SpaceX’s Starship

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