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Blue Origin plans to build a tourist space station that will be nearly as large as the ISS when it is completed




A massive new commercial space station called "Orbital Reef" is being proposed by Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos' rocket and space Tourism Company. The station would be used for science experiments, vacation getaways, and possibly even in-space manufacturing.

 

Boeing intends to collaborate with startup Sierra Space on the construction of the space station, and Boeing intends to design a research module for the station, though there is no guarantee that the companies will be successful in their endeavors. Such projects continue to be prohibitively expensive and risky, with estimates indicating that they will cost tens of billions of dollars and that multiple safe launches will be required before even a single human floats aboard.

 

At a press conference on Monday, executives from Blue Origin and Sierra Space stated that they intend to co-finance the space station, though they declined to provide an estimate of the total cost. They did, however, mention that they expect to sign NASA as an anchor tenant, though the specifics of such a partnership are currently unknown.

 

After more than two decades of service, the International Space Station (ISS), which has hosted astronauts from the United States, Russia, and more than a hundred other countries, is nearing the end of its operational life. NASA is soliciting proposals for commercial space stations to replace the ISS. Numerous other companies, including Texas-based Nanoracks and Axiom, have made proposals that are similar to this one.

 

However, the company expects to have Orbital Reef operational by the late 2020s, though it will have a lot to do before that. Up to this point, the company has only completed a few crewed suborbital flights, which are comparable to what NASA accomplished in the early 1960s, and it has yet to successfully launch a spacecraft, let alone a person, into orbit. The construction of a space station would be a significant step forward.

 

In addition, the New Glenn rocket, built by Blue Origin and expected to be powerful and large enough to deliver the space station's largest components to orbit, has not yet been put into service, and its first flight has been postponed until at least late in 2022.

 

Also under development are spacecraft that will be capable of transporting people to and from the International Space Station (ISS). For example, Boeing's Starliner has suffered numerous setbacks and will not be able to conduct a critical test flight until as late as the middle of 2022, according to current estimates.

 

Up to ten people will be able to stay on the orbital reef, which will have a volume that is roughly equal to that of the International Space Station (ISS).

 

Several additional companies took part in Monday's Orbital Reef announcement, highlighting the potential applications for various in-space businesses and products that they are currently developing, among other things. Also being developed by Genesis is an approach that will allow astronauts to carry out spacewalks without the need for a spacesuit, which will enclose them in pods that are vacuum-sealed and equipped with robotic arms. This will allow them to work on the exterior of a space station in the future.

 

Moreover, the 3D printing technology being developed by a company called Redwire may one day make it possible to manufacture new goods in space rather than having to go through the time-consuming and expensive process of manufacturing goods on Earth and then launching them into space in the future.

 

The space station could be used for microgravity research by companies from around the world, ranging from pharmaceuticals to material sciences. This would be similar to what companies are already doing on the International Space Station (ISS). NASA has long recognized the benefits of conducting research in space, and they continue to do so. Physical and biological phenomena are unaffected by the gravitational pull of the Earth when operating in microgravity. For example, reproducing an experiment conducted on the ground on the station can provide scientists with a more fundamental understanding of how something works.

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