Known as the "Orbital Reef", the station will be a "mixed-use business park" in space, offering research, commerce, and tourism services.
Blue Origin, the space tourism company owned by billionaire and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, plans to launch a commercial space station in low earth orbit by the end of the decade.
Known as the "Orbital Reef", the station will be a "mixed-use business park" in space, offering research, commerce, and tourism services, Blue Origin said in a statement on Monday.
With volume as big as that of NASA’s International Space Station (ISS), the Orbital Reef will be able to accommodate up to 10 people.
Blue Origin will partner with Sierra Space and Boeing to build the outpost of the space station. The venture will also be backed by Arizona State University, Redwire Space and Genesis Engineering Solutions.
The 32,000 square feet station will fly at an altitude of 500 km (310 miles) and is said to be ideal for film-making or conducting research. It would include a "space hotel", where the inhabitants can experience 32 sunrises and sunsets a day.
Although Blue Origin did not disclose the cost of building the space station, the project is likely to receive heavy funding from Bezos. The Amazon founder has committed $1 billion annual spending on Blue Origin.
“A vibrant business ecosystem will grow in low Earth orbit, generating new discoveries, new products, new entertainments, and global awareness,” Blue Origin executive Brent Sherwood said in a statement.
Last week, space company Nanoracks announced its plans to launch a space station called Starlab by 2027. Nanoracks will partner with Voyager Space and Lockheed Martin for the project.
The push for new space facilities comes at a time when NASA is looking to replace its 20-year-old International Space Station which is in need of repairs. NASA spends up to $4 billion annually on the facility. Fearing that its outdated equipment can trigger a major incident, Russian officials have warned that its cosmonauts could quit the ageing outpost by 2025.
Earlier this year, NASA said it would award $400 million in private contracts to space companies to replace ISS, the BBC reported. According to The Wall Street Journal, the agency has already received about a dozen proposals for station concepts.
Blue Origin has also submitted a proposal for that opportunity, but would like to pursue its space station plans regardless of what NASA decides, said Sherwood.
(Edited by : Aditi Gautam)
First Published: IST