The company plans to work alongside the startup Sierra Space to carry out the space station and Boeing plans to design a research module on the station, although there are no guarantees that companies will make it a reality. . These projects are still exorbitantly expensive and risky, probably costing tens of billions of dollars, and require multiple safe launches before a human can even get on board.
Blue Origin and Sierra Space plan to co-finance the space station, though executives declined to give a total cost estimate during a press conference Monday. They added that they expect to sign NASA as an anchor tenant, although it is not exactly clear how this partnership could take shape.
NASA has issued calls for proposals for commercial space stations as the 20-year-old International Space Station, which has hosted crews of professional astronauts from the United States, Russia and more than a hundred countries, it is nearing the end of its useful life. Several other companies, including Texas startups Nanoracks
, have made similar proposals.
Blue Origin expects Orbital Reef to be operational by the end of the 2020s, although some will have to be done for this to happen. The company has only managed a few manned suborbital flights so far, as NASA first achieved in the early 1960s, and has yet to put a spacecraft into orbit, let alone one person. A space station would make a major leap.
New Glenn, the Blue Origin-built rocket that is expected to be powerful enough and large enough to carry larger parts of the space station into orbit, is not yet operational, and its inaugural flight
has recently been delayed to at least the end of 2022.
The spacecraft that could be used to transport people to and from the space station are also under development. of Boeing Starliner
, for example, has had numerous hiccups and will not make a crucial test flight until mid-2022.
It is estimated that the orbital reef will be able to accommodate up to 10 people, and will have a volume similar to that of the International Space Station.
Several other companies participated in Monday’s Orbital Reef announcement, mentioning the proposed uses for various companies and space products they are developing. A company called Genesis
He is also working to develop a medium that allows astronauts to make space trips without space suits by putting people in vacuum-sealed pods with robotic arms so that one day they can work outside of this space station.
A company called Redwire is also working on manufacturing in space in the form of 3D printing, which could one day facilitate the production of new goods in space instead of having to go through the difficult and costly process of manufacturing goods. on earth. throwing them into space
In terms of space station operations, companies around the world, from the pharmaceutical industries to the materials sciences, could use it to conduct microgravity research. as they already do in the ISS
. NASA has long known the benefits of doing research in space. In the microgravity environment, physical and biological phenomena are not trapped by the Earth’s attraction. Therefore, doing the same experiment at the station that has been done in the field can give scientists a better fundamental understanding of how something works.