SALT LAKE CITY — NASA is looking to bring commerce to space, which could lead to space travel, manufacturing and even sports events.
According to The Verge, 12 commercial aerospace companies have pitched ideas to NASA on how to create a “viable commercial economy” in low Earth orbit. Ideally, the space agency would use one of these ideas to transition funding the International Space Station out of NASA’s pocket.
Each concept is available to the public on NASA’s website. Here are the companies involved and what their ideas are:
- Axiom Space: A new commercial space platform that follows the ISS in orbit and provides sustainable space living by 2023.
- Blue Origin: A space station that could be used to analyze and research potential low Earth orbit markets.
- Boeing: The ISS would continue its mission and increase in size and functionality based on market demand.
- Deloitte: Low Earth orbit could be used to further research in human spaceflight, tourism and manufacturing processes.
- KBRWyle: Unused space on the ISS could be leased out to others for research purposes and transitions to other stations.
- Lockheed Martin: Transition the ISS into a lower-cost commercial platform that acts as a research lab and jumping-on point for companies to transition into a low Earth orbit economy.
- McKinsey & Company: NASA should develop “levers” that encourage low-cost spaceflight and industrial application.
- NanoRacks: Multiple outposts would be converted from the shell of rockets and used to facilitate a “killer ecosystem.”
- Northrop Grumman: Free-flying space modules will provide support to the ISS and serve as the basis for a future commercial platform.
- Sierra Nevada Corporation: Dream Chaser space shuttles could be used to transport people and cargo to a new low Earth orbit space station that would serve as an economic hub.
- Space Adventures: A new private space station will start life attached to the ISS before becoming an independent platform by 2028.
- Maxar Technologies: After initial government funding, a modular space shuttle would be used as a private, commercialized multi-use platform.
NASA says a commercially viable space industry would likely increase the number of habitable platforms orbiting the Earth, and that profits could come from research and development as well as the development of other commercial markets, like videography, travel, sporting events and marketing.
The Verge also notes that regardless of future plans, NASA would still have a presence in space — even if it means paying rent for access to a commercial space station. But as of right now, the future for the space agency and the ISS is up in the air.