Blue Origin plans to launch a commercial space station
Operations will start by the end of the decade
Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos's space tourism company, has announced plans to launch a commercial space station.
Blue Origin is planning to create a privately-owned space station to orbit the Earth to operate as a “mixed-use business park,” with an internal volume nearly as large as the ISS, which will capable of housing up to ten people.
The company aims to launch its open-system architecture space station called Orbital Reef into low-Earth orbit between 2025 and 2030, around the time when the International Space Station is scheduled to retire due to its infrastructure aging.
Blue Origin is partnering with multiple companies to make it happen, primarily Sierra Space, a subsidiary of the Sierra Nevada Corporation, which plans to provide its Large Integrated Flexible Environment (LIFE) module. The module includes living quarters with three floors that have lab space, sleeping quarters, a kitchen, and more. Blue Origin will be responsible for the launch system, utility systems, and core modules.
Boeing, a key partner in the ISS program, will be in charge of the Orbital Reef’s operations and maintenance and provide science modules along with its Starliner capsule to transport people and cargo to and from the space station.
“For over sixty years, NASA and other space agencies have developed orbital space flight and space habitation, setting us up for commercial business to take off in this decade,” Senior Vice President of Advanced Development Programs for Blue Origin, Brent Sherwood, said, “We will expand access, lower the cost, and provide all the services and amenities needed to normalize space flight. A vibrant business ecosystem will grow in low Earth orbit, generating new discoveries, new products, new entertainments, and global awareness.”
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