Blue Origin, a space company by Jeff Bezos and Sierra Space, recently announced plans for Orbital Reef, a business park in space.
In other words, a commercially developed, owned and operated space station to be built in low Earth orbit.
The company says the station will open the next chapter of human space exploration and development by facilitating the growth of a vibrant ecosystem and business model for the future.
Orbital Reef is backed by space industry leaders and teammates, among them Boeing, Redwire Space, Genesis Engineering Solutions and Arizona State University.
Designed to open multiple new markets in space, Orbital Reef will provide anyone with the opportunity to establish their own address in orbit. This unique destination will offer research, industrial, international, and commercial customers the cost competitive end-to-end services they need including space transportation and logistics, space habitation, equipment accommodation, and operations including onboard crew.
Blue Origin says the station will start operating in the second half of this decade.
Orbital Reef will be operated as a “mixed use business park” in space.
The shared infrastructure will efficiently support the proprietary needs of diverse tenants and visitors.
Blue Origin says the space park will feature a human-centred space architecture with world-class services and amenities that are practical and safe.
As the premier commercial destination in low Earth orbit, Orbital Reef will provide the essential infrastructure needed to scale economic activity and open new markets in space.
Reusable space transportation and smart design, accompanied by advanced automation and logistics, will minimise cost and complexity for traditional space operators and new arrivals, allowing the widest range of users to pursue their goals.
The open-system architecture allows any customer or nation to link up and scale to support demand. Module berths, vehicle ports, utilities and amenities all increase as the market grows.
The move to create Orbital Reef is one of several efforts to capitalise on the emerging commercial space sector, with the ISS set to be decommissioned later this decade, having previously been expected to be put out of action by 2024. Its first module was launched more than two decades ago.