Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Sierra Space announced Monday they are teaming up to build “Orbital Reef,” a new commercial space station.
The “mixed use business park” isn’t quite the final frontier, but it’s the next destination for Bezos, his collaborators and customers to better explore, research and open new markets in space to support a diverse range of visitors.
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“Orbital Reef” is set to open the second half of this decade and is open to “seasoned space agencies, high-tech consortia, sovereign nations without space programs, media and travel companies, funded entrepreneurs and sponsored inventors, and future-minded investors,” the release reads.
It’s a commercial endeavor expected to feature space transportation, habitation, equipment and an onboard crew.
The project’s human-centered infrastructure also plans to incorporate “reusable space transportation and smart design, accompanied by advanced automation and logistics, (to) minimize cost and complexity for both traditional space operators and new arrivals, allowing the widest range of users to pursue their goals.”
The announcement comes days after space industry leaders argued to extend the life of the International Space Station until 2030 instead of 2024.
“Orbital Reef” wouldn’t replace the ISS, but would ensure the U.S.’s presence in low-Earth orbit.
“We will expand access, lower the cost, and provide all the services and amenities needed to normalize space flight,” said Brent Sherwood, Senior Vice President of Advanced Development Programs for Blue Origin, in a press release. “A vibrant business ecosystem will grow in low Earth orbit, generating new discoveries, new products, new entertainments, and global awareness.”
Most recently, Blue Origin launched William Shatner into space.
The “Star Trek” actor, best known for playing Captain Kirk, became a star among the stars Oct. 13 after being blasted into space by Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket.
“Sierra Space is thrilled to partner with Blue Origin and provide the Dream Chaser spaceplane, the LIFE module and additional space technologies to open up space for commercial research, manufacturing, and tourism,” said Dr. Janet Kavandi, former three-time NASA astronaut and Sierra Space president. “As a former NASA astronaut, I’ve been waiting for the moment where working and living in space is accessible to more people worldwide, and that moment has arrived.”
The companies are also partnering with Boeing, Redwire Space and Genesis Engineering and Arizona State University in this venture.