Sierra Space and Blue Origin Successfully Complete Orbital Reef System Definition Review
The SDR is an important program milestone to establish the functional baseline for Orbital Reef, a commercially developed, owned and operated space station to be built in low-Earth orbit (LEO). It demonstrates to NASA that the space station design is feasible and achievable while validating that the Orbital Reef system is on-track to proceed into the design phase.
The Orbital Reef team, including Amazon Supply Chain, Amazon Web Services, Arizona State University, Boeing, Genesis Engineering Solutions and Redwire Space, is maturing the design of its space station in partnership with NASA under the agency’s Commercial Low-Earth Orbit Development (CLDP) program. NASA awarded the agreement in December 2021 to shift NASA’s research and exploration activities in LEO to commercial space stations and help stimulate a growing space economy.
The SDR included an extensive review to ensure that the proposed Orbital Reef architecture is responsive to the functional and performance requirements; it examined the proposed system architecture and the flow-down to all functional elements of the Orbital Reef system. The successful SDR supported NASA’s decision to further develop the system architecture and design. Representatives from Blue Origin, Sierra Space, team members, and NASA participated in the review, conducted between mid-June and mid-July to allow in-depth review of documentation and feedback to the team.
“We are on the doorstep of the most profound industrial revolution in human history. An industrial revolution marked by the transition from the last 60 years of space exploration to a future where humanity extends our factories and cities into space. It isn’t solely about tourism – it is about unlocking the next great discoveries using the microgravity factories that we will build just 250 miles above the Earth’s surface,” said Tom Vice, CEO of Sierra Space. “The microgravity factories and services provided by Orbital Reef have the potential to revolutionize every industry and become a major growth contributor to the U.S. and world economies.”
“This SDR moves Orbital Reef forward,” said Brent Sherwood, Senior Vice President of Advanced Development Programs at Blue Origin. “We are meeting the needs of both the commercial marketplace and NASA’s requirements. Orbital Reef will change the game for human space flight in Earth orbit.”
Orbital Reef 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. 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. The station is expected to be operational by 2027.
About Sierra Space
Sierra Space (www.sierraspace.com) is a leading commercial space company at the forefront of innovation and the commercialization of space. Sierra Space is building platforms in space to benefit life on Earth. The company is in the latter stages of doubling its headcount, with large presences in Colorado, Florida and Wisconsin. Significant investors in Sierra Space include General Atlantic, Coatue, and Moore Strategic Ventures.
With more than 30 years and 500 missions of space flight heritage, Sierra Space is enabling the future of space transportation with Dream Chaser®, the world’s only winged commercial spaceplane. Under construction at its Colorado headquarters and expected to launch in 2023 on the first of a series of NASA missions to the International Space Station, Dream Chaser® can safely carry cargo – and eventually crew – to on-orbit destinations, returning to land on compatible commercial airport runways worldwide. Sierra Space is also building an array of in-space destinations for low Earth orbit (LEO) commercialization including the LIFE™ (Large Flexible Integrated Environment) habitat at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, a three-story commercial habitation and science platform designed for LEO. Both Dream Chaser® and LIFE™ are central components to Orbital Reef, a mixed-use business park in LEO being developed by principal partners Sierra Space and Blue Origin, which is expected to be operational by 2027.
About Blue Origin
Blue Origin was founded with a vision of millions of people living and working in space for the benefit of Earth. Blue Origin envisions a time when people can tap into the limitless resources of space and enable the movement of damaging industries into space to preserve Earth, humanity’s blue origin. Blue Origin is working today to create that future by developing reusable launch vehicles and in-space systems that are safe, low cost, and serve the needs of all civil, commercial, and defense customers. Blue Origin’s efforts include flying astronauts to space on New Shepard, producing reusable liquid rocket engines, developing an orbital launch vehicle with New Glenn, building next-generation space habitats, and returning to the surface of the Moon. These endeavors will add new chapters to the history of spaceflight and move all of humanity closer to that founding vision. For more information about Blue Origin, please visit BlueOrigin.com.