Advancing the Future of Space Exploration: Blue Origin & Sierra Space’s Next Chapter

Beyond the Horizon: NASA’s Future Space Stations, Recycling Waste and Exploring the Moon

The International Space Station (ISS) is nearing the end of its operational life, with the Biden administration committed to keeping it running until at least 2030. NASA has plans to transition to privately owned space stations by then, with the decommissioned ISS set to disintegrate in Earth’s atmosphere and fall into the ocean. However, in recent years, the ISS has faced numerous issues, including cracks, air leaks, toilet failures, temperature variations and oxygen supply system failures.

NASA has made significant progress in developing critical technologies for future privately owned space stations. The Orbital Reef, a future privately owned space station, has passed key milestones in developing a regenerative system that recycles astronaut urine. This technology will provide clean air and drinking water for astronauts aboard the space station. Recycling urine and other waste helps reduce costs and the amount of supplies that need to be launched into space.

NASA has awarded funding to companies like Blue Origin and Sierra Space to develop commercialized space stations in low-Earth orbit. These commercial space stations could potentially replace the ISS in the future. This outsourcing of space station development allows NASA to focus on bigger priorities such as establishing a permanent human presence on the moon through the Artemis missions.

By retiring the ISS, NASA will free up resources to focus on lunar missions. The projected cost of the Artemis missions is estimated to be $93 billion between 2012 and 2025, not including launch costs. Moving forward, NASA plans to work with industry partners to ensure competition, reduce costs and meet the demand for space stations from NASA and other customers.

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