Updated: Aug 3
In the quest for human expansion beyond Earth, Vast Space, a pioneering startup founded by cryptocurrency billionaire Jed McCaleb, has set its sights on creating an artificial-gravity space station in low Earth orbit. With the vision of a future where millions of people inhabit the solar system, Vast aims to tap into the vast resources and potential of space.
By reducing the limitations of zero-gravity environments and developing scalable solutions for human productivity in space, Vast is paving the way for long-term habitation and the exploration of new frontiers. This article delves into the exciting plans and challenges faced by Vast in its mission to revolutionize space habitation.
The Vision for a New Era
Jed McCaleb, whose wealth Forbes estimates at $2.5 billion, envisions a future where Earth's finite resources are supplemented by the untapped wealth of the solar system. In an email to SpaceNews, McCaleb expressed the need for a frontier, stating that every prosperous civilization requires one to push off into.
Illustration - Haven-1 with SpaceX Dragon docked and a visiting crew of four. (Image Credit: Vast)
By establishing a space station that can accommodate human habitation and work, Vast aims to create a new frontier for humanity and ensure the long-term survival and prosperity of our species.
The Journey Begins: Haven-1, Vast's First Space Station
Vast's ambitious plans are becoming a reality with the announcement of Haven-1, the first commercial space station set to be launched into orbit in August 2025. Collaborating with launch partner SpaceX, Vast aims to utilize the Dragon crew capsule to transport the station's first human occupants shortly after its deployment. Haven-1, a modular artificial space station, will serve as an extended-stay destination for up to four crew members, offering not only living space but also opportunities for research, in-space manufacturing, and scientific exploration during stays of up to 30 days.
Artificial Gravity: Overcoming the Challenges
One of the key focuses of Vast's space station design is the implementation of artificial gravity. The detrimental effects of prolonged exposure to microgravity, such as muscle atrophy, bone loss, and even brain damage, pose significant challenges to long-term human habitation in space.
To overcome these challenges, Vast plans to incorporate a large spinning structure within the station, generating centrifugal force that mimics the effects of gravity. This innovative approach will provide a healthier environment for astronauts and enable them to stay in space for extended periods without the permanent side effects of zero-gravity.
Assembling a World-Class Engineering Team
Vast recognizes that the success of its mission hinges on the expertise and dedication of its engineering team. With over 20 employees, including seasoned professionals from esteemed organizations like SpaceX, Vast is committed to building a world-class engineering team capable of tackling any problem. Led by former SpaceX vice president for construction and facilities, Kyle Dedmon, and supported by experts in systems engineering, human factors engineering, and propulsion engineering, Vast is well-positioned to pioneer advancements in space habitation technologies.
Launcher's Orbital Tug. (Image Credit: Vast)
Challenges on the Path to Space Habitation
While Vast's vision is ambitious, it is not without its challenges. Building spinning structures in space presents unique obstacles, including the management and control of momentum, as well as the complexities of docking to a spinning module and maintaining reliable communications.
Additionally, transportation and testing pose logistical challenges, as the modules Vast is developing are not road-shippable and require access to seaports or airports for shipping. Despite these hurdles, Vast remains determined to overcome these obstacles and create a functional and sustainable artificial-gravity space station.
Seeking Revenue Generation and Partnerships
To finance its ambitious endeavors, Vast initially plans to self-fund its work using the resources Jed McCaleb has gained from his success in the cryptocurrency world. However, Vast also aims to secure outside investments and form partnerships with organizations like NASA or other national programs in the future.
By generating revenue and attracting customers, Vast aims to evolve from a research platform and machine shop into a fully operational space station that can support various scientific, commercial, and educational activities.
A Race to the Stars
Vast's plans to launch Haven-1 in 2025 position them as a frontrunner in the race to establish commercial space stations. While other projects, such as the Starlab project by Nanoracks, Lockheed Martin, and Voyager Space, and Axiom's commercial space station, have set their sights on similar goals, Vast's timeline puts them ahead.
By pioneering the development of low-cost, artificial-gravity stations, Vast aims to unlock the potential of space habitation and create an industry and infrastructure that will enable humanity to access the abundant resources of the solar system.
The Future of Humanity Lies Beyond Earth
Vast's mission to expand human habitation into the vastness of space is driven by the desire to preserve Earth and ensure the survival of future generations. By pushing the boundaries of human exploration and establishing a sustainable presence in space, Vast aims to unlock the potential for growth and prosperity that lies beyond our home planet. Through advancements in space habitation technologies and the creation of a vibrant space ecosystem, Vast is paving the way for a future where millions of people can call the solar system their home.
Vast Space's ambitious plans to develop an artificial-gravity space station represent a significant leap forward in the quest for human expansion beyond Earth. By addressing the challenges of long-term habitation in space and harnessing the potential of the solar system's untapped resources, Vast is opening up new frontiers for humanity.
With its world-class engineering team and strategic partnerships, Vast is poised to revolutionize space habitation and shape the future of human exploration. As we look to the stars, Vast's vision offers hope for a sustainable and prosperous future for generations to come.