The plan of a space station called Orbital Reef was revealed by Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin on Monday. As per the reports of CNBC, it will be developed in collaboration with several space companies and will be launched sometime between 2025-2030. The Orbital Reef station, which may house up to ten people, can also provide exotic hospitality to space visitors.
Sierra Space, a division of aerospace contractor Sierra Nevada Corporation, is the company's principal partner for the station, with Boeing, Redwire Space and Genesis Engineering joining the team as well. Redwire executive vice president Mike Gold told the business news outlet that they are only beginning to realise the immense implication of microgravity research, development and manufacturing, not only for exploring the universe and also for enhancing life on Earth.
Blue Origin aims to launch Orbital Reef using its New Glenn rocket, which will provide utility systems and core modules for the space station. Sierra Space will contribute to its LIFE habitat (Large Integrated Flexible Environment) and will transport goods and crew to and from the station using its Dream Chaser spacecraft. The station's payload operations and deployable structures will be run by Redwire Space, which went public in September.
Announcing #OrbitalReef - a commercial space station transforming human space travel and opening access to new markets. Our team developing the premier commercial destination in low Earth orbit: @BlueOrigin @SierraSpaceCo @BoeingSpace @RedwireSpace @ASU https://t.co/PP4wxrfkF3 pic.twitter.com/qJDdYg7BSv— Orbital Reef (@OrbitalReef) October 25, 2021
Orbital Reef's science-focused module will be built by Boeing, which will also administer the station's operations and do maintenance engineering. Executives from the team's companies declined to say how much they plan to invest in Orbital Reef during a conference call with reporters. According to the news, Blue Origin vice president Brent Sherwood said the company will not disclose a precise number for how much the Orbital Reef space station will cost, citing commercial concerns.
Blue Origin had previously collaborated with major space businesses, like Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper, to develop a crewed lunar lander for NASA's HLS programme. However, despite winning a $579 million award for early development, the Blue Origin-led team was beaten out for the $2.9 billion contracts by Elon Musk's SpaceX earlier this year. Since then, Blue Origin has sued NASA, requesting that the lunar lander award be revoked. Another private space station was revealed last week by Nanoracks, Voyager Space, and Lockheed Martin called Starlab, which is expected to be operational by 2027.