A European space station would imply a huge shift in the way Europe approaches human spaceflight. Right now there's just a handful of European astronauts, far fewer than either China or America has. In terms of human spaceflight Europe is more comparable to Japan. Would a Japanese space station make sense? I don't think so.

Space stations are a few steps down the road from deciding to invest in human spaceflight. Europe hasn't, so far at least, made a strong commitment to doing that. Until they do, talk of ESA or the EU funding a station is surely premature.

Expand full comment

A very interesting read!

Expand full comment
May 17Liked by Andrew Parsonson

Most of the long article sounds personal opinion/statement and far from an analysis’ result… Do you see that public trasportation on Earth is without public investment? So why not thinking about project financing schemes for LEO activity (crewed and uncrewed)?

Expand full comment
May 16Liked by Andrew Parsonson

Ultimately, the prospect of fully and rapidly reusable rockets, such as the USs Starship and China's CZ-9, could drastically alter the economics of space stations.

Until then, the market is likely to be rather limited, so we have another 20 years to go, roughly, before that potential is realized.

Expand full comment
May 18·edited May 18

As usual, thanks for providing another comprehensive analysis of the state of the industry.

You also seem to be getting quite a bit of user response.

While a bit more disappointing about the state of the industry then I was hoping for, it is good to be aware of reality. You also listed a few potential commercial station purposes that I was unaware off. I will be adding them to my list.

Personally I would not classify countries and companies flying up people to do experiments under 'tourism' but 'space lab services'.

It would be great if we could get a better idea of the demand for space experiments. Both ESA (E3P, ICE Cubes, Bartolomeo and Bioreactor Express) and NASA (CASIS) run commercial experiments. But while they do publish the experiments that are selected to fly up, I am curious if they keep a list of what is turned now. And a valuation of what percentage was turned down due to limited capability, or just under the standard but could be made to fit it.

Regular crew and cargo flights to ISS have been restored, and NASA now has a 'spare' astronaut for science. But I have not seen an increase in cargo runs to fly up more experiments.

As for what you may be 'missing' regarding fueling stations; these stations would need to be in a similar, or they would need to use a lot of it to chance inclination.

Also, most of what you address are human space stations, which does not go as well with fueling stations due to explosion risk, and the toxicity and corrosion of rocket fuels. (Rideshare limits what fuels its satellites can use, and Nanoracks probably has restrictions on what it launches from ISS too.) There are talks and plans about commercial fuel depots, but these will be robotic.

Expand full comment