On Monday, Jeff Bezos’ aerospace company Blue Origin announced its plans to have “Orbital Reef,” a commercial space station, operational by the end of the decade.
So far, Blue Origin has completed two successful suborbital flights this year alone. Bezos himself flew in the New Shephard rocket over the summer. While “Star Trek” star William Shatner became the oldest person in space at 90 years old a few weeks ago.
Now, Blue Origin is focusing on developing a “mixed-use business park” space station that could house 10 people, according to CNN. They’re partnering up with Sierra Space, Boeing, Redwire Space, and Genesis Engineering.
The outlet reported that Jeff Bezos’ company and Sierra Space will co-fund the project, but they did not give specific estimates on the total cost.
Blue Origin’s rocket New Glenn will be used to launch Orbital Reef. But CNN reports that it’s not yet operational and its maiden flight has now been delayed to mid-2022. The aerospace company will also provide “utility systems” and “core modules” for the space station, per CNBC.
CNBC and CNN also reported that Redwire Space would handle in-space manufacturing. They’ll use 3-D printing to create goods that companies would otherwise have to launch up to the station. Redwire will also focus on microgravity research.
“We’re just beginning to understand the tremendous implications that microgravity research, development, and manufacturing can mean, for not only for exploring the universe and making discoveries but improving life on Earth,” Redwire executive vice president Mike Gold told CNBC.
Genesis Engineering, meanwhile, will contribute a “Single Person Spacecraft” system. Basically, a vacuum-sealed pod with robotic arms that lets a person move outside the station without a spacesuit. Boeing will focus on transportation, using crafts like the Starliner to transport people to and from Orbital Reef.
What Else is In Store For Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin Space Station?
The space station race is on between Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and several other companies. NASA’s International Space Station (ISS) will retire by 2030. Leaving a golden opportunity for a private company to come in and revolutionize the space sector.
According to the Wall Street Journal What’s Now? Twitter page, fellow space companies Nanoracks and Axiom Space are already in the process of developing their own space stations. Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin will have to hurry if they want to beat out these competitors.
Per the Wall Street Journal, Blue Origin execs explained how Orbital Reef would operate as a commercial space.
“This unique destination will offer research, industrial, international, and commercial customers the cost-competitive, end-to-end services they need. Including space transportation and logistics, space habitation, equipment accommodations, and operations including onboard crew.”
The outlet also reported the Blue Origin execs saying that revenue would be generated from “government agencies and private sector customers.”