Startup Vast and SpaceX collaborate to launch the first commercial space station into orbit. Vast, a new entrant in the field of privatized spaceflight and a California-based startup announced plans to transport passengers to and from the proposed space station, although the cost of such trips remains unknown.
Vast founder and CEO Jed McCaleb stated that the company is investing $300 million in the project and will not seek outside investment until after the space station is operational. Vast plans to use life support systems developed for SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft, giving the company an advantage in creating its space station.
Although the launch date is scheduled for August 2025, developing a space station is a complex process that requires extensive testing and technology. Vast is not guaranteed to become the first company to launch a private space station, as several other companies are also developing their own. NASA, along with its international partners, is seeking to replace the aging International Space Station with a privately developed space station.
An illustration of Vast proposed Haven-1 commercial space station
The Biden-Harris administration, along with officials from Canada, Japan, and the participating countries of the European Space Agency, have granted authorization for the International Space Station (ISS) to continue its operations until 2030. However, the Russian government, another key partner of the ISS, has only committed to participating until 2028.
The financial details of Vast's agreement with SpaceX for launch services remain undisclosed. Vast's president, Max Haot, stated that SpaceX's team and leadership are interested in building a Falcon 9-based space station, which aligns well with Vast's plans for the Haven-1 space station. The Haven-1 space station is designed to be a single-structure unit that can launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which has been the company's primary launch vehicle for over a decade.
Vast has announced plans to sell up to four crewed seats on the inaugural mission to its commercial space station, Haven-1. The as-yet-unnamed crew will receive training from SpaceX before the mission, known as Vast-1, takes place. The company expects its customers to include domestic and international space agencies, as well as private individuals involved in science and philanthropic projects.
Initially, Haven-1 will operate independently, floating freely in Earth's orbit. However, Vast's long-term plans involve attaching the spacecraft as a module to a larger space station.
The ultimate goal is to build a massive orbiting space station that can generate artificial gravity. This would require launching the station atop a SpaceX Starship vehicle, a rocket that is still in development stages and exploded during its inaugural test flight in April.