Recently, a company announced that it had signed a contract with the United States Department of Defense. The goal? Develop a station or rather an autonomous space outpost that could be put into orbit in 2022.
A scalable and autonomous space station
Amidst space tensions with China and Russia, the United States is on the verge of a new turning point. In a press release issued by Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) on July 14, 2020, a contract signed with the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) is mentioned. The DIU is a division of the United States Department of Defense, so the goal is to help the military use emerging commercial technologies more quickly.
According to the press release, the contract stipulates a reuse of SNC’s Shooting Star transport vehicle. The Shooting Star was originally intended to supply the International Space Station (ISS). However, the vehicle will ultimately serve as the basis for the design of an unmanned orbital outpost.
SNC evokes an evolving and autonomous space station for experiments and logistics demonstrations. Specifically, it is about space assembly missions, experimentation, logistics, manufacturing, training, testing and evaluation. It will deal also with missions with microgravity. The purpose of the space assembly is to put satellites into orbit directly from space.
How far will the Pentagon go?
According to an article in The Dive, the station could also be used to test communication systems. However, it could also be a question of data sharing or navigation systems. A little more worrying all the same, the station would also be able to accommodate sensors for purposes of intelligence, surveillance or reconnaissance. It is also not impossible that the machine will be equipped with defensive or offensive weapons.
SNC mentioned the possibility of placing the station in different orbits. These include the Medium Earth Orbit, the Highly Elliptical Orbit, and the Geosynchronous Earth Orbits (GEO). Furthermore, it should be noted that the Pentagon has not yet reacted to this press release, so there is still some doubt. However, it’s hard to believe that it could be fake news. Indeed, the Sierra Nevada Corporation has been a long-time supplier to the US military, NASA, and the space industry.