Space Explored

Blue Origin partners up with Sierra Space, Boeing, and others to build a fully commercial space station

By Seth Kurkowski

October 25, 2021

Orbital Reef will have room for up to 10 people, with Blue Origin describing the space station as a "mixed use business park." For example, hosting both orbital research and space tourism.

They will also use their Dream Chaser spaceplane to carry cargo and crew to the station. Currently, Sierra only has a cargo variant but the company has plans for a human-rated design.

Boeing will build Orbital Reef's science module and run operations of the station. Their experience with NASA's ISS spans decades, making them plenty capable.

Boeing's Starliner, while still having some trouble with development, will also be used for crew and cargo transportation.

Redwire Space will be in charge of Orbital Reef's payload operations. The company will also build some "deployable structures" and use the station for research, development, and manufacturing.

Genesis Engineering will design and develop and “Single Person Spacecraft” for those who visit. This will be an alternative to spacesuits used during spacewalks.

This brings back memories of Werner von Braun's "Bottle Suit," which would have been used to build his orbital outpost.

Genesis brings a large amount of experience developing spacecraft, including the James Webb and Roman space telescopes. However, this is their first adventure into human spacecraft.

The timeline for this station is ambitious. Jeff Bezos has always had the vision to move humanity off Earth and into space, and this seems like a reasonable first step.

There is a chance NASA joins on board, as the agency is looking for a commercial replacement to the ISS.