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Blue Origin, Sierra Space to Build Orbital Reef ‘Business Park’ in Space 

By Rachel Jewett | October 25, 2021

A rendering of the Orbital Reef private space station, set for operation in the second half of the 2020s. Photo: Orbital Reef/Blue Origin/Sierra Space

Blue Origin and Sierra Space have plans to build a commercial space station, described as a “business park” in space for research, industrial, international, commercial, and tourism customers. The companies plan to build the station — called Orbital Reef — with the help of Boeing, Redwire Space, Genesis Engineering Solutions, and Arizona State University.

In a flashy Monday announcement rolled out with movie-trailer like video, Blue Origin and Sierra Space pitched Orbital Reef as a destination that will host businesses, nations, researchers, and tourists. No target launch date was set, but Orbital Reef is set to be operational in the second half of the decade. 

“For over sixty 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.”

According to Monday’s announcement, Blue Origin will design the utility systems, large-diameter core modules, and launch on the heavy-lift New Glenn vehicle. Sierra Space will design the Large Integrated Flexible Environment (LIFE) module, node module, and runway-landing Dream Chaser spaceplane for crew and cargo transportation.

Boeing will design the science module, and perform station operations, maintenance engineering, and cargo and crew transport with the Starliner spacecraft. Redwire Space will work on microgravity research, development, and manufacturing, along with payload operations and deployable structures. Genesis Engineering Solutions will design a Single Person Spacecraft for routine operations and tourist excursions, and Arizona State University will lead a global consortium of universities for research advisory services and public outreach.