Another space station company, ThinkOrbital, enters the competition

Though it failed to win a NASA contract to build its manned space station concept, the company ThinkOrbital has instead won small two research grants from the Space Force.

Earlier this year ThinkOrbital — with partners Redwire, KMI and Arizona State University — won two research contracts worth $260,000 under the U.S. Space Force Orbital Prime program for in-space servicing, assembly and manufacturing. Rosen said the plan is to refine the design concept for a space structure that could be used for debris removal and recycling.

“We’re working on a hub and spoke concept where smaller satellites would go out and gather the debris, bring it back to a central location, process it and we could either turn them into fuel or deorbit them,” said Rosen. “We could process debris at that hub, for example, and turn aluminum into aluminum powder that could be used for spacecraft fuel.”

ThinkOrbital is hoping to be selected for the next phase of Orbital Prime which could be worth up to $1.5 million.

This new concept would not be manned, but would instead be used by unmanned robots as service depot.