The orbital real estate rush is just getting started as Sierra Space released more details on its plans to launch a private space station, with news that Blue Origin and Boeing would be joining the team to send the spacecraft to orbit in the second half of the decade.
The planned station, called “Orbital Reef,” will also include tech and services from Redwire Space, Genesis Engineering and Arizona State University. It’s the third announced commercial space station to date, coming just days after Voyager Space, Nanoracks and Lockheed Martin laid out their own plans for a commercial space station, which the group says will launch in 2027. Axiom Space is also planning a commercial station.
Sierra Space originally announced its plans for a commercial space station in April of this year, part of a growing chorus of private companies looking to replace the soon-to-be-retired International Space Station. The company, a division of Sierra Nevada Corporation, has been developing a large inflatable LIFE (Large Integrated Flexible Environment) habitat, which will be used for Orbital Reef. This latest news builds on those earlier announced plans.
Orbital Reef will operate as an “off-world mixed use business park,” Blue Origin’s senior VP of advanced development program, Brent Sherwood said during a media event Monday. The space station could be used for many commercial purposes, including scientific research, manufacturing, media, entertainment and tourism, he mused. Orbital Reef will be capable of hosting 10 people once fully operational, and its internal volume will be around 90% of the current volume of the ISS.