NASA clears Blue Origin, Sierra Space’s ‘Orbital Reef’ station for design phase

Orbital Reef, a commercially owned and operated space station project currently in development, has cleared a key review by NASA.

NASA’s system definition review, which was conducted between mid-June and mid-July, demonstrated that the Orbital Reef design is feasible and achievable before proceeding to the next phase of development. Orbital Reef is developed through a partnership between Blue Origin, Sierra Space, Boeing, Amazon, Arizona State University, Genesis Engineering Solutions, and Redwire Space.

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

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Designed to open up multiple new markets in space, Orbital Reef will offer everyone the opportunity to establish their own address in orbit. The station will provide research, industrial, international and commercial customers with end-to-end services at competitive prices, including space transportation and logistics, space habitation, equipment accommodation and operations, including including a crew on board.

Orbital Reef is expected to be operational in 2027 (Blue Origin/Space Sierra)

Blue Origin will focus on Orbital Reef utility systems, large diameter core modules and a reusable heavy-lift New Glenn launch system, while Sierra Space will work on its Large Integrated Flexible Environment (LIFE) module, node module and Dream Chaser space plane from runway landing for crew and cargo transportation.

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Meanwhile, Boeing will manage Orbital Reef’s science module, station operations, maintenance engineering and a Starliner crewed spacecraft. Redwire will provide research, development, and manufacturing operations and microgravity payload and deployable structures, and Genesis will build a single-person spacecraft for routine operations and sightseeing excursions.

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Amazon will provide logistics expertise to help streamline the delivery and inventory management of supplies between Earth and Orbital Reef, as well as the services and technology tools needed to support human life and work in space through Amazon Web Services. . Arizona State University will provide research consulting and public outreach services.

The “mixed-use business park” is expected to be operational by 2027.

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In December, NASA awarded Blue Origin $130 million under its Commercial Low-Earth Orbit Development (CLDP) program to develop Orbital Reef.

Northrop Grumman also received $125.6 million to develop its own space station concept and Houston, Texas-based NanoRacks received $160 million for its “StarLab” concept designed in collaboration with Voyager Space and Lockheed Martin. .

Additionally, Axiom Space will launch multiple modules to the International Space Station starting in 2024, which will eventually detach to form its own space station.

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President Biden said in January that the United States was committed to supporting the International Space Station until 2030.

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