Voyager Space, one of several US companies developing concepts for new commercial space stations, has formed a joint venture with Airbus to develop an orbiting research station called Starlab, writes Ars Technica.

The companies announced plans to launch a successor to the International Space Station.

“The US-led joint venture will bring together world-class leaders in the space domain, while further uniting American and European interests in space exploration,” the two companies said in a joint statement.

Voyager has been leading the development of a private space station called Starlab for several years. Her concept was one of those selected by NASA for funding in 2021. The Voyager proposal received the largest financial support from NASA – $160 million, which will go towards design and engineering work for the station.

European aerospace giant Airbus is now more actively involved in the Starlab program. Following the announcement in January that the company was joining the Starlab team, the joint venture cements Airbus’ status as a co-owner of the space station.

“With a track record of innovation and technological firsts, Airbus prides itself on partnering with companies that are looking to change history,” said Jean-Marc Nasr, head of space systems at Airbus.

The Starlab station is designed for a permanent crew of four, plus a few more on a short-term basis. It may be ready for launch in 2028. The station will be launched by one high-capacity launch vehicle. The Starlab team will announce the relevant service provider in the next few months.

NASA wants to have at least one commercial space station flying by the time the International Space Station is decommissioned in 2030, so that American astronauts and researchers can continue to work continuously in low Earth orbit.