June 16, 2024
1 Solar System Way, Planet Earth, USA

MDA Space Takes Equity Stake in Starlab Space, a Next-Generation Space Station Endeavor

MDA Space today announced a bold move by joining Starlab Space LLC as a partner and equity owner as Starlab strives to build a next-generation commercial space station.

With the International Space Station expected to deorbit in 2030, international partners have been planning the next step. In particular, NASA developed the Commercial destinations in low Earth orbit program that “supports the development of commercially owned and operated low-Earth orbit destinations from which NASA, along with other customers, can purchase services and stimulate the growth of commercial low-Earth orbit activities.” In other words, instead of a government-led program that designed, developed and built the International Space Station, a next-generation space station will be commercially led.

To date, NASA has funded three companies in the first phase, axiom space, Blue Origin Orbital Reef and Nanoracks Star laboratory. Nanoracks is owned by Voyager Space, the founder of Starlab. Nanoracks received $160 million in funding from NASA in the first phase. Those funds took the form of a public-private partnership contract with Nanoracks that Starlab designs. NASA is expected to select a company and fund its design. However, it has been said, included by Axiom Spacewho think NASA should select two companies for the next phase, without putting all its eggs in one basket.

In addition to Voyager Space and MDA Space, other joint venture partners include Airbus and Mitsubishi Corporation. Northrop Grumman and Hilton Hotels have a “strategic collaboration agreement” with Starlab, although they are not partners in the joint venture.

In the press release announcing today's action, Mike Greenley, CEO of MDA Space, and Tim Kopra, CEO of Starlab Space and former NASA astronaut, offered these statements.

Mike Greenley said: “Our integration into the Starlab Space team is more than a program collaboration – it strategically merges highly complementary, best-in-class expertise with the higher purpose of accelerating the space economy on Earth and in orbit. It is also a validation of the capability and value that MDA SKYMAKER offers to the emerging commercial space exploration and infrastructure market, and the high level of confidence the industry has in MDA space robotics.”

Tim Kopra said: “With the addition of MDA Space to Starlab, we are not only embracing innovation, we are exercising it. Having experienced firsthand the exceptional reliability and versatility of robotic technologies developed by MDA Space during my time on the International Space Station, I am confident that this partnership will drive innovation and unlock new possibilities for Starlab. “MDA Space’s robotic technologies, which have long been a cornerstone of space exploration, will be an integral part of our operations, ensuring precision and excellence in every endeavor.”

It should be noted that Kopra used to work for MDA Space as Vice President of Robotics and Space Operations.

While MDA Space is now a partner of Starlab Space, it also does business with Axiom Space, having signed two agreements for a total of 62 pairs of payload interface for the Axiom space station.

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