Don’t call them commercial space stations, or gateways, or portals. NanoRacks is laying claim to a different moniker for its new breed of refurbished orbital modules.
“We like ‘outposts,’” NanoRacks CEO Jeffrey Manber told GeekWire.
The space outposts that Manber has in mind, at least to start out with, are converted Centaur upper stages — the rocket boosters that sit atop the first stage of United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5 rocket.
NanoRacks’ concept calls for refurbishing the insides of a Centaur upper stage after it’s finished delivering an Atlas payload to its proper orbit, so that it can be reused as an orbital habitat. The work could be done by a crew on the International Space Station, or by a robot.