COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The first-ever space science park on Earth will one day sit just north of the Ohio State University Airport. 

A 10-acre plot of unimproved land in northwest Columbus has been set aside for the development of an earthly replica of the George Washington Carver Space Park, a laboratory currently operating on the International Space Station. This past Thursday, Ohio State’s Board of Trustees approved a 40-year lease of property on West Dublin-Granville Road to Voyager Space Science Park, which will construct the terrestrial space lab.

Voyager announced last September that Ohio State, in partnership with the state of Ohio, JobsOhio and One Columbus, won a bid for the location of the company’s space park, Starlab Ground Location-US. The lab will “support ground-based research and development for the Starlab space station,” and Voyager’s facilities on Ohio State property will likely expand in the coming years, according to board meeting materials.

Voyager and Nanoracks, another private space company, won a $160 million bid from NASA to design Starlab, which the companies tout will be the “first continuously crewed, free-flying, commercial space station” to serve NASA and other space agencies. The space lab currently on the International Space Station is meant to be the core of Starlab – and research in that lab will be conducted simultaneously with research on Ohio State’s property.

The land, at 3025 W. Dublin-Granville Road, is part of a 56-acre plot Ohio State’s board bought in 1972, according to meeting materials. Seventy acres of adjacent land the board owns has been “reserved for future aerospace research development.”

Chart of land Ohio State will lease to Voyager to build a terrestrial space park.
Proposed site of Voyager’s space park, Starlab Ground Location-US. (Courtesy Photo/Ohio State University)

Since announcing the collaboration with Ohio State, Voyager has operated out of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Studies facilities. When announcing the winning bid last year, Ohio State said in a news release that the terrestrial space lab’s research will benefit Ohio’s agriculture, including through the study of water preservation, crop genetics and production efficiency, and animal health.

“Ohio is the birthplace of aviation and has a deep-rooted history in aerospace and defense innovation,” Dylan Taylor, chairman and CEO of Voyager Space, said last September. “It’s clear that Ohio offers the most beneficial location for a terrestrial facility to support the long-term success and utilization of George Washington Carver Science Park.”

The initial lease of 10 acres will “preface future development of aerospaced related research facilities,” according to board meeting materials. 

Voyager will receive a 25-year rent abatement and can enter into two, 10-year lease renewals. The company will also have the right of first refusal for 70 acres of surrounding land for the next five years, meaning Ohio State must offer use of the land to Voyager before it can offer it to anyone else.