Astrotech Corporation

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Astrotech Corporation
Industry Aerospace
Founded 1984; 32 years ago (1984)
Headquarters Austin, TX, United States
Number of locations
Key people
Thomas Pickens, CEO
Services satellite, payload and spacecraft pre-launch processing
Number of employees
entrance to Florida facility

Astrotech Corporation, formerly Spacehab Inc.,[2] is an aerospace company headquartered in Austin, Texas which provides commercial space products and services to NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense, international space agencies[who?], and global commercial customers[who?]. The Company changed its name to Astrotech Corporation in 2009 to align the corporate name with the company's core business offering, Astrotech Space Operation.[3] Astrotech Space Operations provides all support necessary for government and commercial customers to successfully process their satellite hardware for launch, including planning; construction and use of unique equipment and facilities; and spacecraft checkout, encapsulation, fueling, and transport. In its 29-year history, Astrotech has supported the processing of more than 290 spacecraft without affecting a customer’s launch schedule.[citation needed]


Former logo, used when trading as Spacehab Inc.

The company was founded by Bob Citron with the help and support of CSP Associates from Cambridge, MA. The team from CSP Associates included founder David W. Lippy along with his partners Brad Meslin and Marc Oderman. It was one of CSP's consultants, Dr. David Williamson who conceived of the idea to increase the cargo space on the Shuttles as the primary focus of the SpaceHab mission. Early venture capital was supplied by Al Zesiger of BEA Associates in New York City as well as Dr. Shelley Harrison also from New York. CSP Associates and its venture contacts were responsible for raising most of the early seed monies to get the company off the ground and funded.


Spacehab unit in the Space Shuttle

Since its inception in 1984, Spacehab modules and integrated cargo carriers (ICC), which fly nestled inside the cargo bay of the Space Shuttles, have provided 22 Space Shuttle missions with supplemental ferrying and space capabilities, including eight resupply missions to the International Space Station (ISS), and seven to the Russian space station Mir.

The inaugural flight of Spacehab’s research double module, which launched January 2003 on STS-107, ended when the Space Shuttle Columbia broke up during re-entry. In January 2004, Spacehab filed a formal claim against NASA for the amount of $87.7 million for the loss caused by the Columbia accident. In February 2003 Spacehab received $17.7 million from the proceeds of its commercial insurance policy, and in October 2004 NASA paid the company $8.2 million.[4] In February 2007, Spacehab dropped all litigation against NASA.

Spacehab Research Double Module in the Shuttle cargo bay.

Spacehab’s most recent hardware design is its permanently deployable Integrated Cargo Carrier (ICC), known as the External Stowage Platform (ESP-2). The ESP-2 is currently attached to the International Space Station’s airlock, providing the only permanent, commercial "spare parts" facility for the ISS crew. Another Spacehab ESP, the ESP-3, was deployed during Space Shuttle mission STS-118, on August 8, 2007. Throughout its more than 20-year history, Spacehab has contracted over $1 billion dollars in total sales.

Products and services[edit]

Space operations[edit]

Astrotech Titusville spacecraft processing facility
MESSENGER assembly at Astrotech.

Astrotech also provides both the government and commercial space markets with satellite processing services through its Astrotech Space Operations (ASO) subsidiary located in Titusville, Florida, three miles (5 km) from the Kennedy Space Center. It has more than 150,000 square feet (14,000 m2) of clean room processing space, and services payloads, or satellites, for United Launch Alliance’s Atlas and Delta rocket families, Orbital SciencesTaurus and Pegasus, and SpaceX's Falcon 9[5] launch vehicles. Astrotech owns and operates processing facilities located on Vandenberg Air Force Base at the Western Range in California. New construction, adding 5-meter fairing capabilities begins in 2007. Also in California, ASO provides payload processing and facilities management support for the ocean-going Sea Launch program at the Home Port Facilities in Long Beach. To date, Astrotech has processed more than 290 satellites, accommodating the industry’s largest five-meter class satellites and payload fairings.


On December 10, 2007, Spacehab released details about its upcoming Advanced Research and Conventional Technology Utilization Spacecraft designed to deliver cargo to, and return cargo from, the International Space Station.[6] The project was later shelved.


External links[edit]