The Beyond Earth Institute (Beyond Earth), a non-partisan think tank supporting a long-term human presence in space, applauds NASA’s announcement to fund three private companies to support the development of commercial space stations that will replace the International Space Station (ISS) by the end of the decade. The three companies include Nanoracks, Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman, which will receive over $400 million between them.
Nanoracks was awarded $160 million. Blue Origin received an award of $130 million and Northrop Grumman received an award of $125.6 million. The awards fall under NASA’s Commercial low Earth orbit (LEO) Destinations program.
Steven Wolfe, Beyond Earth President and Co-founder, said, “The NASA CLD awards are an important continuation of NASA’s pivot in recent years to partner with the private sector to meet its on-orbit needs. We expect the result will be the creation of a robust commercial human habitat sector that will provide NASA with space station facilities at a small fraction of the $100 billion-plus it initially spent for the ISS.”
According to Courtney Stadd, Beyond Earth Vice President for Ecosystem Engagement, “This CLD award announcement now raises some important issues of regulation that have yet to be even partially addressed given that a private entity has never owned and operated an orbiting crewed habitat. What are the unique liability issues? How do trade decisions come into play? How does the Registration Conventions of the Outer Space Treaty apply? These and related issues are being researched by Beyond Earth.”
Wolfe continued, “These awards may also be the catalyst that will ignite a new era of space access. A wide diversity of people from the private and government sectors will travel to space in ever-increasing numbers—first in low Earth orbit, and eventually to the Moon and beyond. This is an essential milestone in our progress toward viable proposals to construct permanent economically sustainable human communities beyond Earth.”
In a related program, Beyond Earth will be hosting a forum titled “Recognizing Property and Ownership in Space” on Wednesday, December 15, 2021, 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM EST.
About the Beyond Earth Institute
The Beyond Earth Institute ( is a non-profit think tank which conducts research, provides analysis, makes recommendations, and develops vital insights regarding space policy proposals with near-term and far-ranging implications. We believe the ultimate goal of space exploration and development is to help move humanity beyond Earth, and that the legal and policy framework should be established now to enable that future. We also believe that government space activities can and should help people on Earth in their everyday lives, even as we work to build a future with economically vibrant communities of people living and working beyond planet Earth.
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David Bullock
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