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NASA grants $415.6 million for new space hubs, in order to do so and play in space?

NASA grants $415.6 million for new space hubs, in order to do so and play in space?

NASA has announced on Thursday that it has awarded $415.6 million to billionaire Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin, stalwart contractor Northrop Grumman Corp, and venture-backed Nanoracks to construct privately-owned and operated commercial space stations.

The trio of prizes is symbolic of the United States space agency's efforts to recruit private companies to enable an American-led commercial economy in low-Earth orbit (LEO) as the famous International Space Station is said to be retiring at the conclusion of the decade.

NASA has awarded Blue Origin $130 million to assist in the creation of its Orbital Reef space station, which was recently unveiled in collaboration with Sierra Space and Boeing Co.

Orbital Reef is a commercial hub for business industries such as manufacturing, entertainment, sports, gaming, and adventure travel, which is also aimed to be a spaceship where crewed and cargo trips are offered by Boeing's Starliner capsule and Sierra Space's Dream Chaser spaceship.

"No one knows how commercial LEO markets will develop, but we intend to find out," Brent Sherwood, Blue Origin's senior vice president of advanced development programs, said in a statement.

With operations planned to begin in 2027, Starlab will have a large inflatable habitat, a metallic docking node, a robotic arm for cargo and payloads, and a research laboratory. Houston-based Nanoracks won the largest prize, at $160 million, for the Starlab space station it is building with Lockheed Martin Corp and Voyager Space. Starlab will feature a vast inflatable habitat, a metallic docking node, a robotic arm for cargo and payloads, and a research

"This opportunity opens far-reaching possibilities for critical research and commercial industrial activity in LEO," Nanoracks Chief Executive Amela Wilson said.

NASA also awarded Northrop Grumman Corporation $125.6 million to defence and space firm.

"Our facility will enable... sustainable commercial-based missions where NASA does not support all of the costs, but serves as one of many clients," said Northrop Grumman vice president for civil and commercial space Steve Krein.

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