KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – Sierra Space is planning crewed missions to begin building a commercial space station in the next few years and the company is opening a training center to get astronauts ready.
The company announced it was opening the Sierra Space Human Spaceflight Center and Astronaut Training Academy Tuesday.
Sierra Space president Janet Kavandi said the academy will be like a “sophisticated Space Camp.”
The company plans to train three types of astronauts who will work on what is being called the Orbital Reef, a space station being built in partnership with Blue Origin.
Professional astronauts will spend months operating and maintaining the Orbital Reef. Specialist astronauts will be trained to conduct research and manufacturing on board, and experiential astronauts will be like tourists, seeing what it is like to live and work in space.
“The training academy is to get people ready to do those jobs,” Kavandi said.
The retired astronaut said the academy will include crew quarters like NASA’s facilities and groundbreaking at Kennedy Space Center is expected by the end of the year.
Sierra Space will use a selection process similar to NASA’s to pick the first professional astronauts in 2023, with training to begin in 2024. Sierra Space hopes to have these astronauts beginning construction of the Orbital Reef by 2026.
Meanwhile, Sierra Space’s space plane, the Dream Chaser, is expected to begin uncrewed missions from Kennedy Space Center in 2023, with a crewed mission planned for 2026.
“I cannot wait to have another space plane touching down at the former Shuttle Landing Facility,” Kavandi said. “It just really opens the door for more and more people to experience what it’s like to be in space.”