Blue Origin and Sierra Space want to build a commercial park in space. It can accommodate up to 10 people and will be located at an altitude of 500 kilometers. Will humans work and live in space?
Blue Origin and Sierra Space announced Monday that they want to build a private space station that can hold up to 10 people, with the goal of operating it during the “second half of the decade.”
It’s called the Tropical Reef, and it’s described as a “commercial park” meant to accommodate multiple clients.
“Experienced space agencies, high-tech consortia, non-space program nations, media and travel agencies, backed entrepreneurs and inventors, and future-focused investors all have their place” on board, the companies listed in a statement.
This new project is another sign of the frantic race to commercialize Low Earth Orbit. Blue Origin, headed by billionaire Jeff Bezos, already has space tourism activities with its New Shepard missile.
“For more than six decades, NASA and other space agencies have been developing orbital flights and habitats in space, putting us on the private business path to launch this decade,” said Brent Sherwood, Director of Blue Origin. “We will expand access, reduce costs.”
Many companies will be involved in the project, in particular Boeing, which will be responsible for the scientific unit and will provide transportation to this station: the Starliner capsule, which is still in the testing phase.
The station will operate at an altitude of 500 kilometers – slightly higher than the current International Space Station (ISS) – and will have an area of 830 cubic metres, or “roughly” the same as the International Space Station.
The resort’s architecture will be “human-centered,” with “big windows,” as promised by Blue Origin and Sierra Space. The latter company, a subsidiary of the Sierra Nevada Corporation, specifically imagined an inflatable condominium unit.
“As a former NASA astronaut, I have waited a long time for the moment when working and living in space will be available to more people around the world, and that moment has come,” said Janet Kavandy, President of Sierra Space.
Announce the competition
Other companies are planning to build their own space stations. Axiom Space has long announced that it wants to build its own force, which will first be connected to the International Space Station before taking on its autonomy.
And last week, Nanoracks, in collaboration with Lockheed Martin and Voyager Space, announced its desire to build a commercial terminal called Starlab, which is supposed to be operational from 2027.
The future of the International Space Station is officially guaranteed until 2024, and from a technical point of view, NASA has confirmed that it will be able to operate until 2028. The head of the International Space Station, the US space agency, Bill Nelson, has spoken in favor of extending it until 2030.
But NASA strongly encourages privatization of low orbit, hoping to save money and the ability to focus on distant exploration missions.
France Press agency
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