Space Image

Voyager Space Announces 2 StarLab Demo Mission With NASA

Voyager Space's StarLab space station has reached two significant milestones as part of its Space Act Agreement with NASA.

  • More details coming soon...
Zac Aubert

Zac Aubert

Wed Dec 13 2023Written by Zac Aubert

Voyager Space's Starlab space station has reached two significant milestones as part of its Space Act Agreement with NASA.

The Starlab program, which aims to provide a sustainable environment for crew, science, and station operations, is embarking on demonstration missions for an alternative urine processor (AUP) and a free-space optical (FSO) link.

Alternative Urine Processor: Paving the Way for Water Sustainability

The Starlab program team has set ambitious goals to supply over 7000 kg (15,435 lb) of potable water annually, supporting various activities on the space station as reliable access to potable water is crucial for sustaining human life in space.

To achieve this, the team has mandated that at least 90% of the wastewater, including urine, must be purified and recycled to minimize the cost and logistical challenges of transporting water from Earth.

Facing the challenge of limited availability of space-rated urine processors, the Starlab team has initiated the maturation and ground testing of a full-scale alternative urine processor. This initiative not only aims to drive down costs but also mitigates technical implementation risks while expanding options in the marketplace for this critical technology.

The testing will be conducted at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, under realistic operating conditions, with the AUP test article supplied by Paragon Space Development Corporation.

Free-Space Optical Link: Revolutionizing Communications in Space

Voyager Space is pioneering the development of a cutting-edge optical communications space terminal.

This technology will be installed on the Bishop Airlock, the first commercial module attached to the International Space Station (ISS) which was launched on SpaceX CRS-21 in December 2020.

The optical communications link will establish high-bandwidth connectivity between a ground terminal and the flight terminal on the ISS, overcoming challenges posed by inaccurate attitude knowledge and varying atmospheric conditions.

The high-bandwidth optical communications system, supported by Edge computing and AI, is a pivotal technology for Starlab's success. It is essential for transmitting large volumes of data generated by Starlab's advanced research activities, including high-resolution video downlink and real-time payload control from the ground.

The goal is to enhance communication efficiency and reliability while reducing costs compared to traditional radio frequency communication systems.

Testing and Beyond: Driving Progress for Starlab

Collaborating with NASA, Starlab is planning comprehensive testing from the ISS to the ground to demonstrate the capabilities required for its primary market.

The anticipated outcome includes lowered communications costs, improved performance, and enhanced reliability. The successful implementation of these advancements will enable higher data rates and more energy-efficient communications, marking a significant leap forward in space communication technology.

The potential impact of these advancements on space exploration and sustainable station operations is vast.