16 July 2020
Pentagon to launch mini space station lab as US military takes to the stars
By Anna Savva
Daily Star


The US Defense Innovation Unit has commissioned a new space station

The Sierra Nevada Corporation has been given an exciting Pentagon contract to craft an experimental space lab to usher in a new era of research and development

The Pentagon has commissioned the development of a space station to carry out important experimental work – with the US military set to benefit.

It's hoped the new station, which is set to be built by the Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), will aid the Federal government with training and operational missions.

The aerospace company announced the deal on July 14 in conjunction with the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) but stopped short of revealing how much it will cost.

DIU, which has headquarters in the Pentagon, has a mission to "accelerating the adoption of leading commercial technology throughout the military".

It is believed the SNC will look to modify existing plans for its 15ft-long Shooting Star space cargo transport vehicle rather than going back to the drawing board.

The project is now underway after being suggested last year

The newly commissioned Unmanned Orbital Outpost with compliment the Shooting Star project which has been in development since 2016 for NASA's Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) program to delivery cargo to the International Space Station.

Announcing the project SNC's CEO Fatih Ozmen said: "We’re excited by the multi-mission nature of Shooting Star."

"It was originally developed for NASA resupply missions to the International Space Station, and since then we keep identifying new capabilities and solutions it offers to a wide variety of customers. The possible applications for Shooting Star are really endless."

Once complete the space station will be a free-flying destination for experimentation and testing

"The current Shooting Star is already designed with significant capabilities for an orbital outpost and by adding only a few components we are able to meet Department of Defense needs."

Steve Lindsey, Senior Vice President of strategy for SNC’s Space Systems added: "We are proud to offer our transport vehicle to DoD as a free-flying destination for experimentation and testing, expanding beyond its current payload service capabilities for Dream Chaser cargo missions."

The cutting-edge project was initially hinted at last summer.

Space boffins are hard at work putting the plans in motion

n a press release the DIU said it wanted a “solution… for a self-contained and free-flying orbital outpost.

The miniature space station would look to support “space assembly, microgravity experimentation, logistics and storage, manufacturing, training, test and evaluation, hosting payloads, and other functions", the Pentagon department said.

The plans are part of a drive to bolster the US' space-based military might

It comes as Trump announced plans for a new US Space Force which will deploy ground-breaking tech to usher in a new era of space-based military endeavour.

The US Department of Defense says it "will advance space power to be able to compete, deter, and win in a complex security environment characterised by great power competition".

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