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The US Department of Defense has laid the foundation stone for an unmanned space station. To this end, the Sierra Nevada Corporation was commissioned to convert their existing Shooting Star space capsule into a space-based laboratory. The five-meter-long space capsule was originally developed as a transport module for NASA's Dream Chaser space glider.

The space laboratory is slated to go into low earth orbit in June 2022.

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The Shooting Star space capsule is used as an unmanned laboratory (Source: Sierra Nevada Corp.)

Later missions in higher orbits - and even near the moon - could be considered. It is also possible to expand the laboratory by docking additional modules. The Pentagon stresses that the satellite is intended to be used for research and development and not as a weapons platform. The areas of experimentation include the manufacture of microelectronics in space under the influence of minimal gravity.

It would not be the first attempt to move research and experiments into space.

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