According to a statement from Blue Origin, the facility will have a capacity for ten people and its occupants will be able to carry out scientific experiments or fly through space for pleasure.
Blue Origin, the space company owned by Amazon mogul Jeff Bezos, has unveiled a project to build a private space station in low-Earth orbit.
Named Orbital Reef, it is designed “to open up multiple new markets in space, and will give anyone the opportunity to establish their own location in orbit,” the company said in a statement. The orbital platform is scheduled to start operating in the second half of this decade.
The space company of billionaire Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon), together with Sierra Space, has announced the construction of the so-called Orbital Reef, a space station that will host tourists as well as researchers and other experts.
The commercial space station should be ready by the end of this decade, the company said in a press release. Its plans call for it to be operational in the second half of this decade, perhaps in 2026 or 2027 (2030 at the latest).
The new plans come to light at a time when NASA is planning for life after the International Space Station, as its contracts expire in 2024. It is not known what the future holds for the current ISS. NASA and the European Space Agency want to put Lunar Gateway on the moon.
Orbital Reef is “designed to open up multiple new markets in space” and “will offer anyone the opportunity to establish their own address in orbit,” he says.
The space station will have a maximum crew capacity of 10 people and will act as a “mixed-use business park.” Aside from research, the space complex will include a hotel, a facility for filming microgravity movies and even manufacturing facilities for devices.
Blue Origin and Sierra Space will work with:
- Redwire Space.
- Genesis Engineering Solutions.
- Arizona State University.
to build and maintain the station, as well as transport crew, visitors and material from Earth to orbit and back.
A new race to space has begun
The exact specifications of the station have understandably not been released at this early stage, but the basic concepts of the program have been described.
What we do know is that the station will be:
- Modular, allowing other private companies, space agencies and nations to connect and expand it as needed.
The core modules are large in diameter and will be launched into orbit using the reusable New Glenn heavy lift launch system and built by Blue Origin.
Meanwhile, Sierra Space will provide a:
- Large Integrated Flexible Environment (LIFE) module.
- Node module and the Dream Chaser spacecraft to transport crew, supplies and payloads to and from Earth.
Redwire Space will work in the areas of:
- Microgravity research.
- Development and manufacturing.
- Payload operations.
- Deployable structures.
Genesis Engineering Solutions is building a 2001: A Space Odyssey-style space capsule called Single Person Spacecraft for outdoor work and sightseeing without a spacesuit, and Arizona State University will lead a worldwide consortium of universities for research consulting and outreach.
“For more than sixty years, NASA and other space agencies have been developing orbital spaceflight and space colonization, preparing to launch commercial operations this decade,” said Brent Sherwood, senior vice president of advanced development programs at Blue Origin.
“We will expand access, reduce costs and provide all the services and amenities needed to normalize spaceflight. Low Earth orbit will create a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem that will:
- Spawn new discoveries
- New products
- New entertainment offerings
- Global awareness.”