Blue Origin wants to build its own commercial space station

The companies Blue Origin and Sierra Space announced Monday that they want to build a private space station that can seat 10 people, with the aim that it will be operational during the “second half of the decade.”

Called “Orbital Reef”, it is described as a “commercial park” intended to accommodate multiple customers.

“Veteran space agencies, high-tech consortia, nations without a space program, media and travel agencies, subsidized entrepreneurs and inventors, future-oriented investors, all have their place,” the companies said in a statement.

This new project is yet another sign of the frantic race to commercialize low Earth orbit. Blue Origin, which is owned by billionaire Jeff Bezos, is already into space tourism with its New Shepard rocket.

“For more than six decades, NASA and other space agencies have been developing orbital flights and habitats in space, setting us on the path forward in this decade for private business,” it said in a statement. being done.” Blue Origin manager Brent Sherwood. “We will expand reach, reduce costs.”

Several companies will be partners in the project, most notably Boeing, which will be in charge of the scientific module and provide the means of transportation to the station: the Starliner capsule, still in the testing phase.

The station will develop to an altitude of 500 km – slightly higher than the current International Space Station (ISS) – and will measure 830 m, or “almost as much” as the ISS.

A drawing of the interior of the space station that Blue Origin plans to build, and which should be operational by the end of the decade (Blue Origin / AFP – handout)
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The resort’s architecture will be “human-centered,” with “large windows,” Blue Origin and Sierra Space have promised. The latter company, a subsidiary of Sierra Nevada Corporation, specifically envisioned an inflatable housing module.

Janet Kavandi, president of Sierra Space, said, “As a former NASA astronaut, I have long waited for the moment when working and living in space will be accessible to more people around the world, and that The moment has come.”

Other companies are planning to build their own space stations. Axiom Space has long announced that it wants to build its own, which will be attached to the ISS before taking on its autonomy.

And last week, the NanoRacks company, in collaboration with Lockheed Martin and Voyager space companies, announced that it wants to build a commercial station called Starlab, which should be operational by 2027.

The future of the ISS is now officially certain until 2024, and from a technical point of view, NASA has confirmed that it will be able to operate by 2028. The head of the ISS, the US space agency, Bill Nelson, has said in favor of an extension to 2030.

But NASA strongly encourages low-orbit privatization, in hopes of saving money and being able to focus on more distant exploration missions.

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