A pair of Russian aerospace companies, Orbital Technologies and Rocket and Space Corporation Energia (RSC Energria) announced their intentions to build, launch, and operate the world’s first Commercial Space Station (CSS). The station will be utilized by private citizens, professional crews as well as corporate researchers interested in conducting their scientific programs onboard the world’s first commercially available human spaceflight platform. The station will have a crew capability of up to seven people.
The space station is expected to launch sometime between 2015 and 2016. The cost of individual trips may vary based on launch vehicle, duration and purpose of missions. Space-certified elements, modules and technologies of the highest quality and reliability will be used in the construction of the station. The CSS will be serviced by the Russian Soyuz and Progress spacecraft, as well other transportation systems available in the global marketplace. Such arrangements are enabled through the station’s unified docking system that will allow any commercial crew and cargo capability developed in the Unites States, Europe and China.
Once launched and operational, the CSS will provide a unique destination for commercial, state and private spaceflight exploration missions, said Orbital Technologies chief executive Sergey Kostenko in a statement. The CSS will be a valuable addition to the global base of orbital assets.
The new space station would have an initial design life of about 15 years, Orbital Technologies officials have said. The station will also fly in an orbit about 62 miles (100 km) from the International Space Station and in a similar inclination, or tilt, to make any transfers of crew or cargo between to two stations easier, the company said.
A US-based company, Bigelow Aerospace, has also been planning to construct a commercial space station using expandable habitats. They launched prototypes in 2006 and 2007, and in 2011 plan to launch a larger 180,572 square ft. module, which they tout as fully operational. “What competition do we see on the horizon?” said Robert Bigelow, founder and president on the Bigelow Aerospace website. “Nobody.”
This Russian space station, if it actually goes forward, would change that.