A render provided by Vast shows the company's proposed Haven-1 space station (right) docked to a SpaceX Dragon vehicle (left).
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Vast - a California-based startup and one of the newest entrants to the world of privatized spaceflight - plans to use a SpaceX rocket to launch what it hopes to be the world's first commercial space station and carry passengers to and from the orbiting outpost.
It's unclear how much the deal will cost, announced Wednesday by Vast. Company management declined to comment on the matter to CNN. It's also unclear how much a trip to the space station offered to visitors, which could include professional astronauts or tourists, would cost.
Jed McCaleb, the founder and CEO of Vast who has already made his fortune in the cryptocurrency industry, said in a statement that the company is "excited to embark on this adventure of launching the world's first commercial space station, Haven-1, and its first crew, Vast-1.
McCaleb said he's investing $300 million of his own money in the effort, and he doesn't plan to seek outside investment for Vast until the company builds its proposed space station and can generate revenues. He added that he recognizes that the overall project would likely cost him more than $300 million.
It is uncertain whether Vast will indeed become the first company to put a private space station into orbit. Vast says it's aiming for a launch date as early as August 2025. However, developing a space station is an extremely complex undertaking, requiring extensive testing and key technologies such as life support systems.
McCaleb said Vast will have an advantage because it can take advantage of life support systems already developed for SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft, which the company plans to use to ferry passengers to its space station.
Vast will equip its Haven-1 space station with the necessary consumables — such as oxygen and other vital materials — but the company won't have to develop a life support system from scratch, McCaleb told CNN.
Other companies, including several with support from NASA, are also working to develop private space stations. NASA, along with its global partners, is seeking to use a privately developed space station to replace the aging International Space Station, which has been continuously manned in low Earth orbit since 2000.
The Biden-Harris administration and officials from Canada, Japan and European Space Agency participating nations have cleared the ISS to remain in service until 2030. But the International Space Station's other key partner, Russia, said it would only guarantee participation by 2028.
It's unclear how much of the $300 million McCaleb has allocated for the Haven-1 project will go to SpaceX for launch services. Vast did not share financial details of his deal with the company.
"The Dragon Team and the (SpaceX) team and management really want to build a space station based on Falcon 9,” said Max Haot, Vast president. Haot ran aerospace company Launcher before it was acquired by Vast in February. "So we're very, very aligned."
Vast's simple, single-structure Haven-1 space station will be able to launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the work vehicle that SpaceX has been launching for more than a decade.
A render provided by Vast shows the company's proposed Haven-1 commercial space station.
Once the spacecraft is sent into orbit, SpaceX would provide training for four as-yet-unknown crew members for a mission dubbed Vast-1.
"Vast is selling up to four crewed seats for the inaugural mission to Haven-1," the company said in a press release. "Expected clients include national and international space agencies and individuals involved in scientific and philanthropic projects."
Initially, the company expects Haven-1 to operate independently, floating freely in Earth orbit. Later, the company plans to attach the spacecraft as a module to a larger space station.
Vast said his ultimate goal was to create a massive orbiting space station with artificial gravity that could be launched atop a SpaceX Starship vehicle, a rocket still in development that exploded in mid-air during its launch. maiden test flight in April.