Ground-based replica of space station lab to be built near Ohio State University airport
A ground-based replica of a laboratory currently operating on the International Space Station (ISS) will eventually sit on a patch of land just north of the Ohio State University airport.
The university’s Board of Trustees recently approved a 40-year lease on the property, which is located on West Dublin-Granville Road.
Voyager Space announced in September of last year its selection of the site to host the terrestrial analog of the George Washington Carver Science Park (GWCSP).
A joint venture between Voyager, Airbus and Nanoracks, GWCSP will become a core element of the companies’ future commercial space station: Starlab.
“We are now entering a period of time where we're going to have to bring the International Space Station to an end,” said John Horack, Neil Armstrong Chair in Aerospace Policy at Ohio State. “We've had human beings and indeed Americans in orbit 24/7, 365 since November of 2000. So, 23 years since the last time the entire human family was together here on the surface of the earth.”
Much like today’s commercial cargo and crew missions to the ISS, the future of low-Earth orbital research will be designed around privately-owned, commercially operated space stations, Horack said.
Conducting research on the ground has multiple benefits over running experiments in orbit, chiefly cost.
“When you get to space, time is extremely valuable and extremely expensive,” he said. “By the time you get to space and you perform an experiment, you want to have done that many, many, many, many times on the ground so that there are as few surprises as possible.”
Horack says the lab will research a host of important areas including material science, biotechnology, human health and even agriculture.
“There’s a lot we can learn about how plants grow, how disease propagates, how to prevent disease by taking plants to space and watching them grow in the absence of gravity and in a very constrained environment and bring that knowledge back down to the ground,” he said.
Horack estimates the facility will be up and running around mid-2028.