Jeff Bezos

Blue Origin Teams With Sierra Space to Build Commercial Space Station

Blue Origin and Sierra Space teaming up to develop a commercial low orbit space station later this decade

Blue Origin

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin is teaming up with Sierra Space to build their own space station, dubbed Orbital Reef, that should be in operation in just a few years.

The companies announced the endeavor Monday, saying they planned to build a commercially developed, owned and operated low orbiting space station that will be operational toward the second half of the 2020s.

The space station will offer an assortment of customers including research facilities, industrial and other customers the cost-competitive end-to-end services they need in space, including transportation and logistics, habitation, equipment accommodation, and operations, including onboard crew.

All these businesses will operate together as a “mixed-use business park.”

"For over 60 years, NASA and other space agencies have developed orbital space flight and space habitation, setting us up for commercial business to take off in this decade," said Brent Sherwood, senior vice president of advanced development programs for Blue Origin. "We will expand access, lower the cost, and provide all the services and amenities needed to normalize space flight. A vibrant business ecosystem will grow in low Earth orbit, generating new discoveries, new products, new entertainments, and global awareness."

Blue Origin is partnering with Sierra Space to build the station. Sierra is currently developing the Dream Chaser spaceplane that will be launched into orbit inside a rocket to resupply the ISS.

Sierra will also develop the LIFE and node modules of the space station.

Photos: Blue Origin Teams With Sierra Space to Build Commercial Space Station

"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," said Dr. Janet Kavandi, former three-time NASA astronaut and Sierra Space president.

"The microgravity environment presents an entirely new arena for commercial and scientific development, making Orbital Reef the platform that will launch new technologies and capabilities dramatically improving life on Earth while enabling humanity's journey to the stars,” said Mike Gold, Executive Vice President for Civil Space and External Affairs at Redwire.

Orbital Reef will help continue microgravity research, development, and manufacturing activities which also help advance fields ranging from communications and biotechnology.

"This is exciting for us because this project does not duplicate the immensely successful and enduring ISS, but rather goes a step further to fulfill a unique position in low Earth orbit where it can serve a diverse array of companies and host non-specialist crews," said John Mulholland, Boeing vice president and program manager for the International Space Station. "It calls for the same kind of expertise we used to first design and then build the International Space Station and the same skills we employ every day to operate, maintain and sustain the ISS."

An alternative to space suits for spacewalks, the Single Person Spacecraft, will be developed by Genesis Engineering Solutions. The "suit" is designed for servicing and exploration of the ISS, NEOs and satellites and it can be piloted or controlled remotely.

"The Single-Person Spacecraft will transform spacewalking," said Brand Griffin, Program Manager for Genesis Engineering Solutions. "Space workers and tourists alike will have safe, comfortable, and quick access outside Orbital Reef. Shirtsleeve environment, great visibility, automated guidance, and advanced precision manipulators will make external operations cost-effective and routine."

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