Jeff Bezos’ space exploration company has now got a new objective: to build a space station for commerce, research, and tourism, that will be named Orbital Reef.
What could the man who already has everything possibly want…? An enormous commercial space station floating above us in the planet’s outer atmosphere, apparently.
Blue Origin, the aerospace manufacturer owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has just outlined its plans to build a multipurpose hub in low-Earth orbit that will be ready for use “by the end of this decade”.
Announcing #OrbitalReef – a commercial space station transforming human space travel and opening access to new markets. Our team developing the premier commercial destination in low Earth orbit: @BlueOrigin @SierraSpaceCo @BoeingSpace @RedwireSpace @ASU https://t.co/PP4wxrfkF3 pic.twitter.com/qJDdYg7BSv— Orbital Reef (@OrbitalReef) October 25, 2021
According to the enterprise’s official website, travellers to the space station will be able to “take in the beauty of our planet” thanks to the large Earth-facing windows, and will “experience the thrill of weightlessness in complete comfort… supported by medical care and recreation opportunities.”
In fact, Blue Origin describes its prospective venture as a “mixed-use business park”, which is surely the least inspiring way possible to describe a literal space station, bringing to mind visions of the outskirts of Slough rather than the outskirts of our planet’s atmosphere. Proposed commercial uses include “film-making in microgravity, opening a space hotel, or conducting cutting edge research”, the latter of which will be made possible thanks to a “cutting edge” onboard loboratory.
However, much as has been the case with the company’s suborbital spaceflights, much of the interest in this venture surrounds its uses for tourism — and to this end, Blue Origin promises that you could “[float] free and weightless, awed by Earth’s thin blue biosphere, [seeing] sixteen vibrant sunrises and sunsets a day while flying over all of humanity.” Come to think of it, that does sound a bit more enticing than a package holiday to Tenerife.
This latest endeavour will be conducted in partnership with other private organisations, most notably including Sierra Space, Boeing, Genesis Engineering, Redwire Space, and Arizona State University.