Orbital Assembly (OA) is announcing a new program and mission design as well as planning services for station-class hosted payloads” on the company’s micro and artificial gravity space stations.
“The International Space Station has a multi-year backlog of companies and institutions seeking to conduct paid research projects in space and the demand is increasing,” says Rhonda Stevenson, CEO of Orbital Assembly. “We’re now providing space program and mission support services for the utilization of a new class of private space platforms that are coming online to supplement the ISS and capture the demand.”
OA’s Pioneer-classTM station business parks offer a framework for access and utilization of space that will streamline an affordable path to hosting the first payload and enabling subsequent missions to achieve on-orbit program goals.
The Pioneer-classTM stations are the world’s first and largest hybrid space stations and are scheduled to be the first free-flying, habitable, privately-operated facilities in orbit. OA’s station configuration will offer orders of magnitude more volume than is currently available for hosted payloads. And as additional modules are added to Pioneer stations customers can continue to affordably expand their footprint significantly.
OA can host payloads designed into a CubeSat form factor, ISS Express Rack, or standard server rack formats as well as digital payloads deployed on-premise, on station. OA and station partners will provide access to sensor and payload data feeds as well as additional amenities including installation, power, water/gas inputs, vacuum exhaust, ability to dissipate heat and, and even a human presence if needed.
OA plans to lease space on Pioneer-class stations to a mix of commercial, private, academic, research and industrial customers, and offer them a wide range of on-orbit capabilities including manufacturing parts on demand from glass, aluminum, steel, plastics, and other exotic materials. Space manufacturing has a wide range of potential opportunities in power services, organ printing, semiconductor production and many other emerging markets.
“Leveraging OA’s expertise to conduct program and mission design studies will enable customers to plan more efficiently and envision the first and subsequent steps by planning for a series of missions at the outset,” Stevenson says. “Pioneer offers more payload interchangeability and expansion with the volume of space we have available on station.”
For the same cost of launching a CubeSat into Sun-Synchronous Orbit, Pioneer stations can host these payloads internally and offer a myriad of additional benefits resulting from operating on a crewed station or one that has robotic and remote access capabilities. Customers can focus on their primary mission and use the station’s infrastructure for power, thermal control, avionics, and communications resulting in less expensive and faster development cycles. A hosted payload bundled with power and thermal control will be cost-competitive while offering a much deeper set of on-station utilities and services that are currently unmatched.
In the future, the Pioneer Station will offer variable gravity capabilities that provide unique properties to materials and processes, giving Pioneer customers a greater range of robotic and crewed service options for space factories in a box.
OA will continue to reduce the costs of upmass and downmass, which is now prohibitively expensive. OA also expects to be a hub destination for tugs and orbital transfer vehicles that will utilize Pioneer stations as ports of call to further lower the cost of manifesting and co-manifesting payloads. Hosted payloads can aggregate and operate on station, while they wait for others to go to another orbital destination or rideshare back to Earth once the mission is complete.