COLORADO SPRINGS – Collins Aerospace said Aug. 23 it had been awarded a $2.6 million contract by an undisclosed customer to provide life support systems for a planned “privately owned and operated low Earth orbit outpost.”
Collins Aerospace, a subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies, said the contract is for Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS), a suite of technologies that enable livable conditions outside of Earth’s atmosphere.
These include air revitalization technologies and systems for controlling pressure and temperature in space.
“A new era of commercial spaceflight is creating the need for Earth-like atmospheres at low orbit destinations,” Dave McClure, vice president and general manager of ISR and space solutions at Collins Aerospace, said in the announcement.
“This award underscores Collins’ commitment to working with both the private and public sectors on providing the foundation for commercial space travelers to eventually live, work, and play in space.”
Shawn Macleod, Collins Aerospace’s director of business development, told SpaceNews the contract is with “a long-duration stay, orbital customer.”
He said the mission’s timeline would be driven by this undisclosed customer, however, “typically hardware can be deployed within a few years.”
Collins Aerospace has already developed and manufactured life support technologies for NASA, including the water recovery system on the International Space Station.
Macleod said the $2.6 million contract is not the first ECLSS that Collins Aerospace has sold to a privately owned company but declined to elaborate.
“As more private industry destinations become available, the demand for life support systems will increase,” he said, adding that Collins Aerospace is in talks about providing ECLSS to other private companies.
Axiom Space is the highest-profile company known to be planning a commercial space station.
The Houston-based company raised $130 million in February to develop commercial modules it aims to start placing on the ISS in 2024 and later form the core of a standalone commercial station.
In early 2022, Axiom Space will use a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft to carry three paying customers and a former astronaut to the ISS.
Axiom Space declined to comment.
Blue Origin, which sent its billionaire founder Jeff Bezos on a brief suborbital trip in July, has also been considering developing a commercial space station.
China, meanwhile, is developing its own space station and has already launched hardware to orbit.
In May, Collins Aerospace and Houston Airports, which manages and operates the Houston Spaceport, announced plans for a 120,000 square-foot facility to support spaceflight applications.
Collins Aerospace is Houston Spaceport’s anchor tenant, and is receiving up to $25.6 million in financing from Houston Airports as part of the upgrade plan, which it will later reimburse.
Collin Aerospace said its existing facility in Houston, which develops and produces systems for NASA’s human spaceflight programs, is at capacity.