RJ Pierce, Tech Times
Blue Origin wants to be the first privately owned company to build their own space station.
(Photo : PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)
A sign is seen at an entrance to Blue Origin’s Launch Site One in Van Horn, Texas on October 12, 2021. – Blue Origin is scheduled to launch the New Shepard NS-18 mission to space with passengers, including actor William Shatner, on October 13 from the West Texas region, 25 miles (40kms) north of Van Horn.
The company recently announced their plans to build the space station, which they call Orbital Reef, writes Phys.org. According to Blue Origin, Orbital Reef is designed to house 10 people and scheduled to launch during the second half of the 2020s.
But unlike the International Space Station, however, it won’t be just used for scientific experiments.
A Blue Origin press statement says that the space station is designed to be a so-called “mixed-use business park” intended to support activities such as scientific research and manufacturing in tandem.
Aside from that, Orbital Reef is also planned to be offered to paying tourists as an “exotic” hospitality destination, reports CNBC.
As per Space.com, Blue Origin is partnering up with Sierra Space, Boeing, and other aerospace companies to bring the project to life. Here is an official announcement video from the company:
Official specs reveal that Orbital Reef will be sitting slightly above the ISS at an altitude of 310 miles above the Earth’s surface. From there, the crew members of the space station can see as much as 32 sunrises and sunsets in a day.
Read also: ISS Food Is Not All Bland, Says French Astronaut; But How Exactly Is Food Packed For Outer Space?
Blue Origin Will Have To Overcome Several Hurdles
For Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin to achieve their plans, however, they’ll have to overcome a few recent mishaps concerning the company.
One incident involves allegations that Blue Origin has major safety issues. A total of 21 employees have claimed that Jeff Bezos’ firm has deliberately ignored safety concerns due to their intense focus on leading the private space race.
This could be largely due to Bezos’ venture still playing second-fiddle to Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which has been landing several multi-billion-dollar contracts to help the likes of NASA with their future missions.
Aside from that, the company has also suffered from a massive brain drain. Shortly after Jeff Bezos himself went to space, several top employees, including their best engineers, left Blue Origin for mostly undisclosed reasons.
(Photo : Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
VAN HORN, TEXAS – JULY 20: Jeff Bezos speaks about his flight on Blue Origin’s New Shepard into space during a press conference on July 20, 2021 in Van Horn, Texas. Mr. Bezos and the crew that flew with him were the first human spaceflight for the company.
They did, however, reveal a few of their reasons for leaving such as frustration with executive leadership, as well as slow bureaucracy.
If Bezos and Blue Origin really want to get Orbital Reef operational within their planned time frame, they’ll have to source new top talent and tackle those safety allegations fast.
Private Space Station Race
With the ISS inching ever closer to retirement, Blue Origin’s Orbital Reef is going to be the among first official replacements for it. The launch window of the private space station is right within the ISS’ retirement wheelhouse, which is the late 2020s.
Another space company called Nanoracks, who’s working with Lockheed Martin and Voyager Space, will serve as a direct competitor to Blue Origin in the private space station race. Theirs will be called Starlab, which is scheduled to be operational by 2027.
Related: Blue Origin Memes: Elon Musk Agrees with Entries Throwing Shades at Space Company Amidst Lawsuit
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Written by RJ Pierce
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