Blue Origin announces Orbital Reef, a commercial space station set to open this decade

Shawn Knight

Posts: 13,605   +139
Staff member
Editor's take: While space tourism will no doubt be a big part of Orbital Reef, the potential for further research and space-based manufacturing is arguably much more exciting for the rest of us here on Earth. New techniques gleaned from building things in space, for example, could help boost the effectiveness of everyday products or lead to breakthroughs we haven't even considered.

Blue Origin has announced plans to build a space station in low Earth orbit. Dubbed Orbital Reef, the facility will be operated as a “mixed use business park” in space for commerce, research and tourism purposes.

Blue Origin is teaming with Sierra Space on the initiative, with additional backing from Boeing, Genesis Engineering Solutions, Redwire Space and Arizona State University. ASU will lead a global consortium of universities that will also play a role in the project, focusing on areas like community needs, advising novice researchers and leading STEM outreach.

Sierra Space, a subsidiary of Sierra Nevada Corporation, is working on Dream Chaser, a spaceplane that’ll be able to transport cargo – and eventually, crew members – to and from low Earth orbit. The plane will be capable of landing on runways worldwide. Genesis Engineering Solutions, meanwhile, will be responsible for the Single Person Spacecraft used for external operations and tourist excursions.

When Orbital Reef opens in the second half of this decade, it’ll have almost the same volume as the International Space Station. The baseline configuration will feature separate science and habitable zones, we’re told, with support for up to 10 people.

Blue Origin to date has flown a total of eight people to the edge of space and back as part of its space tourism business, including founder Jeff Bezos and actor William Shatner.

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Kotters

Posts: 354   +254
One wonders how they're going to launch to orbit, as they're still not fielding an orbital-class rocket and what little we've seen and heard of their progress isn't promising. I'm not entirely sure New Glenn will be flying by the end of the decade.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 6,724   +5,156
One wonders how they're going to launch to orbit, as they're still not fielding an orbital-class rocket and what little we've seen and heard of their progress isn't promising. I'm not entirely sure New Glenn will be flying by the end of the decade.
Figure its not a real announcement, but an announcement to play one-upsmanship with SpaceX and Musky. ;)
 

Bulllee

Posts: 251   +169
''Figure its not a real announcement, but an announcement to play one-upsmanship with SpaceX and Musky.''
No such thing as bad press unless you read it!
 

psycros

Posts: 3,707   +4,669
I'm all for humanity's expansion into space but it galls me that its all going to be driven by egomanic billionaires just like those 70's and 80's hard sci-fi writers predicted. And yet if we confiscated their wealth to make these public projects we know the money would go towards everything BUT space, because there are no JFKs or Ronald Reagans left in government.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 6,724   +5,156
I'm all for humanity's expansion into space but it galls me that its all going to be driven by egomanic billionaires just like those 70's and 80's hard sci-fi writers predicted. And yet if we confiscated their wealth to make these public projects we know the money would go towards everything BUT space, because there are no JFKs or Ronald Reagans left in government.
I agree. However, I think that expansion into space without resolving humanity's Earth-bound problems will just lead to those problems following humanity where ever it goes in the universe.
 

lripplinger

Posts: 301   +111
There are 25 million people in North Korea who are starving to death. Countless others around the world face starvation and lack of access to energy. But hey, Bezos is here to save the day, by building a useless space station, just so he can line his pockets more.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 6,724   +5,156
There are 25 million people in North Korea who are starving to death. Countless others around the world face starvation and lack of access to energy. But hey, Bezos is here to save the day, by building a useless space station, just so he can line his pockets more.
I do not see that as Bezos fault, however. I see it as a failure of the World's economic systems. Until something changes there, nothing will ever change.