Science

Blue Origin’s private space station passes key design review

The private space station that Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and other partners are planning to build has just cleared an obstacle on its way to orbit.

Orbital Reef — a project involving Blue Origin, Sierra Space, Boeing and a number of other companies and institutions — has passed the System Definition Review (SDR) at NASA, team members announced Monday (August 22).

This milestone shows that the proposed Orbital Reef architecture is sound and allows the project to move on to the design phase.

Related: NASA allocates $415 million to private space stations due to ISS transition issues

“This SDR takes Orbital Reef forward,” said Brent Sherwood, senior vice president of advanced development programs at Blue Origin. (will open in a new tab). “We meet the needs of both the commercial market and NASA requirements. Orbital Reef will be a game changer for human spaceflight in low Earth orbit.”

In December 2021, NASA awarded the Orbital Reef team $130 million as part of the agency’s Low Earth Orbit Commercial Development Program (CLDP), which aims to establish and launch at least one commercial outpost before the International Space Station (ISS) is decommissioned. operation. Deadline 2030.

Two other private space station projects also received CLDP funding in this round. Starlab, led by NanoRacks, received $160 million, while the team, led by aerospace giant Northrop Grumman, received $125 million for their concept. All three commercial space stations plan to be operational around 2027.

And the fourth orbital outpost could host space tourists, extraterrestrial manufacturing companies, and other customers around the same time. Axiom Space has entered into a separate deal with NASA that sees the Houston-based company launch multiple modules on the ISS starting in 2024. If all goes according to plan, the Axiom modules will eventually detach and become a commercial outpost.

Mike Wall is the author of Out There (will open in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrations by Carl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (will open in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (will open in a new tab) or on facebook (will open in a new tab).

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