The new commercial space station, which is intended to succeed the International Space Station, will have a European JV subsidiary in addition to the US entity to directly serve the European Space Agency and its member state space agencies

Voyager Space and Airbus Joint Venture Starlab

Voyager Space and Airbus sign agreement to create a JV to develop, build, and operate Starlab. (Credit: Voyager Space/PR Newswire)

Voyager Space and Airbus Defence and Space have signed an agreement to form a joint venture (JV) to develop, build, and operate a commercial space station dubbed Starlab.

The US-led JV aims to further unite American and European interests in space exploration.

Voyager Space is a US-based space exploration technology company, while Airbus Defence and Space is a French aeronautics and space company.

Starlab is expected to become the first continuously crewed, free-flying, commercial space station that will offer service to NASA and space agencies around the world.

It is intended to succeed the International Space Station by bringing together the top figures in the space domain, said Voyager Space.

The new commercial space station will have a European JV subsidiary in addition to the US entity to directly cater to the European Space Agency (ESA) and its member state space agencies.

The new JV builds on an agreement made in January 2023, where Voyager Space chose Airbus to deliver technical design support and expertise for Starlab.

Airbus space systems head Jean-Marc Nasr said: “This transatlantic venture with footprints on both sides of the ocean aligns the interests of both ourselves and Voyager and our respective space agencies.

”This pioneers continued European and American leadership in space that takes humanity forward. Together our teams are focused on creating an unmatched space destination both technologically and as a business operation.”

The announcement of the transatlantic JV follows the completion of the station-level system requirements review (SRR) for Starlab.

Starlab SRR, which is a multi-disciplined review to examine the functional, technical, performance, and security requirements of the space station, was completed in association with NASA’s commercial low-earth orbit (LEO) development programme team.

In December 2021, Voyager Space was awarded a $160m space act agreement (SAA) from NASA through the former’s exploration segment Nanoracks.

Voyager Space president Matthew Kuta said: “The International Space Station is widely regarded as the most successful platform for global cooperation in space history, and we are committed to building on this legacy as we move forward with Starlab.

”We are establishing this joint venture to reliably meet the known demand from global space agencies while opening new opportunities for commercial users.”

The finalisation of the joint venture is subject to regulatory approvals.