With the clock slowly running out on the aging International Space Station there is some concern for what comes next. With interest running high to fill every square millimeter of LEO space with tiny orbital WiFi extenders and the really BIG money focused on building a human presence on the Moon, there are obvious questions about the future of Earth-locked space stations.
Then along comes the National Low Earth Orbit Research and Development Strategy (paper) from the White House that seems to declare official encouragement for private industry to take the ball and run with it.
Generally, the strategy’s policy objectives affirm and continue the activities NASA promotes through various means using the International Space Station (ISS): international cooperation, STEM, and microgravity-based research.
All policy objectives assume some sort of LEO space station will continue to be available to achieve them. Companies with plans for commercially-run space stations, like Axiom and Amazon, will probably benefit from the strategy.
“The International Space Station (ISS) stands as an impressive achievement of international scientific and technical cooperation and has paved the way for future commercial alternatives or platforms in LEO. These LEO platforms, called “commercial LEO destinations,” will be privately-owned and operated facilities in space with the capacity for conducting research.”
“Commercial LEO destinations” certainly sounds like a place to whisk the family away for a long weekend of fun in the solar weather, kinda like an orbiting AirBnb.