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NASA supports Blue Origin’s Orbital Reef space station

episode News from October that the space company Blue Origin of Jeff Bezos was planning to build its own commercial space station in low earth orbit, NASA announced on Thursday that it would finance the program through a. selected Space Act Agreement to further develop the design of the station. The funding is part of NASA Commercial LEO development programwhich aims to “develop a robust commercial space economy in LEO, including supporting the development of commercially operated LEO targets”.

Blue origin

“We are pleased that NASA is supporting the development of Orbital Reef, a revolutionary approach to making Earth orbit more accessible to various customers and industries,” said Brent Sherwood, senior vice president of advanced development programs at Blue Origin, in a pre-emptive Explanation. The station would be an orbital mixed-use space business park that would offer a variety of turnkey services and reduced operating costs for emerging low-G industries, “in addition to meeting the needs of ISS partners”.

Blue Origin is partnering with Sierra Space on this project, with the former focusing on the station’s architecture and infrastructure – everything from design and construction to managing elevator logistics using the New Glenn Heavy Launch System – while the latter is developing the The station commissioned is LIFE (Large Integrated Flexible Environment). Boeing is also helping, developing the Operations Maintenance Science module and using its Starliner crew capsule. Genesis Engineering Solutions is also involved. It is working on a one-person spaceship that tourists and employees alike can play around in.

The announcement on Thursday comes ironically at the end of a year in which Blue Origin took on the “fundamentally unjust”Decision too awards a lunar lander contract to rival SpaceX to GAO, which quickly dismissed the lawsuits. Blue Origin then sued NASA – literally suing NASA – “in an attempt to fix the flaws in the NASA Human Landing System acquisition process,” a Blue Origin spokesman told Engadget in August. The company lost that suit as a result, but Thursday’s deal will hopefully serve as a balm for Bezos’ severely injured ego.

Northrop Grumman's Cygnus space station is designed as a series of tubes.

Northrop Grumman

The Orbital Reef team hopes to have their first modules in orbit by the end of the decade, with further expansions in the 2030s. But Orbital Reef isn’t the only egg in NASA’s commercial LEO basket. Northrop Grumman announced Thursday that it has also signed a US $ 126 million Space Act agreement to design a “free-flying” space station that will be permanent in LEO for at least 15 years.

“Our station will enable a smooth transition from LEO missions based on the International Space Station to sustainable commercial missions where NASA does not bear all costs but serves as one of many customers,” said Steve Kerin, Northrop Grumman’s vice president of civil and commercial spaces, said in a statement. The company plans to use its existing Cygnus spacecraft, Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV), and Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) as the basis for the station’s design.

As part of the agreement with NASA, these development proposals must take into account every aspect of the station’s “commercialization, operations, and capabilities”. after Northrop Grumman, “as well as space station requirements, mission success criteria, risk assessments, key technical and market analysis requirements, and preliminary design activities.”

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