Cryptocurrency billionaire Jed McCaleb-backed startup Vast has announced plans to launch Haven-1, a space station, into orbit by late 2025. Teaming up with SpaceX, the school bus-sized cylindrical spacecraft aims to replace the aging International Space Station (ISS) as a research laboratory. While NASA provided development funds to companies like Northrop Grumman and Blue Origin, Vast did not receive funding initially, but there is hope for future support from NASA by 2028. However, Vast faces the challenge of securing private capital in a risk-averse investment climate as no private company has built and deployed a space station before. Jed McCaleb, with a net worth of $2.4 billion, has personally committed $300 million to Vast, although the overall cost of Haven-1’s development remains undetermined.
Vast intends to send a crew of four on a 30-day research mission aboard Haven-1 shortly after its deployment. The launch of the space station will be facilitated by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, while the astronauts will travel in SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, which will autonomously dock with Haven-1. Tom Ochinero, a senior SpaceX executive, sees the project as a significant step towards a fully commercial future for low-Earth orbit. Haven-1 is designed to operate for three years and accommodate three additional 30-day missions. Vast is presently engaged in discussions with potential astronauts for the inaugural mission.
While Vast primarily targets government space agencies as customers, the company also aims to attract philanthropists, private research firms, and businesses interested in sending payloads for robotic research missions to the station. With the ISS scheduled for retirement in 2030, NASA envisions commercial space stations as viable replacements. The successful collaboration between Vast and SpaceX holds the potential to bring this vision closer to reality.
While NASA has already awarded development funds to several companies, including Northrop Grumman and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, Vast did not initially secure funding from the space agency. However, the startup’s president, Max Haot, expressed optimism about receiving NASA funding by 2028, although no official confirmation has been received.
One of the significant challenges Vast faces is the absence of a private company having built and deployed a space station before. The ISS, a colossal football field-sized structure, cost over $100 billion combined for participating countries, constructed through multiple launches over the span of two decades. With the current risk-averse investment climate, Vast must navigate the landscape to secure private capital for their ambitious space station project.
Jed McCaleb, with a net worth of $2.4 billion, has already committed $300 million to Vast to support Haven-1’s development. However, the total cost of the project remains uncertain, and McCaleb acknowledged that additional funding would likely be required.
Vast plans to send a crew of four on a 30-day research mission aboard Haven-1 shortly after its deployment. The space station will be launched into orbit using SpaceX’s reliable Falcon 9 rocket. To reach Haven-1, the astronauts will depart Earth aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, which will autonomously dock with the station. This collaboration signifies a significant leap toward a future where low-Earth orbit is primarily occupied by commercial ventures.
Haven-1 is designed to operate for three years and accommodate three additional 30-day research missions. Vast is currently in talks with potential astronauts for the inaugural mission, further solidifying their commitment to advancing scientific exploration and space research.
Vast’s primary target customers are government space agencies, but the company also aims to attract philanthropists, private research firms, and businesses interested in conducting robotic research missions or sending payloads to the station. By fostering a wholly commercial project in low-Earth orbit, Vast and SpaceX are taking vital steps toward shaping the future of space exploration and expanding opportunities for scientific innovation.