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Blue Origin, partners announce plans for private space station

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Blue Origin, partners announce plans for private space station
Blue Origin's founder Jeff Bezos (R) greets "Star Trek" actor William Shatner as he emerges his space trip on October 13. Photo by Blue Origin/EPA-EFE

Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Jeff Bezos announced plans on Monday for Blue Origin to run the world's first private space station called the Orbital Reef, which would serve as a space business park and a regular destination for space tourists.

Blue Origin will partner with a Sierra Nevada Corp. subsidiary called Sierra Space, along with Boeing, Redwire Space and Genesis Engineer to make the space station happen.

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While not giving a date for when the Orbital Reef would be operational, participants said it will create business and research opportunities and should be attractive to industrial, international and commercial customers.

"For over 60 years, NASA and other space agencies have developed orbital space flight and space habitation, setting us up for commercial business to take off in this decade," Brent Sherwood, Blue Origin's senior vice president of advanced development programs, said in a statement.

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"We will expand access, lower the cost and provide all the services and amenities needed to normalize space flight. A vibrant business ecosystem will grow in low Earth orbit, generating new discoveries, new products, new entertainments and global awareness."

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The Orbital Reef business model will provide an avenue for countries without a space program to participate in space research, along with investors, travel companies, entrepreneurs and investors.

Janet Kavandi, Sierra Space president and a former NASA astronaut, said her company is supplying its Dream Chaser spaceplane, the space module and additional space technologies for the space station.

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"As a former NASA astronaut, I've been waiting for the moment where working and living in space is accessible to more people worldwide, and that moment has arrived," Kavandi said in a statement.

Blue Origin would provide core modules and the launching system, while Boeing would add a science module and provide station operations, maintenance engineering and its Starliner crew spacecraft.

Partner Redwire Space would provide microgravity research, development, manufacturing and payload operations, while Genesis Engineering Solutions would offer a new single-person spacecraft for routine operations and tourist excursions.

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Arizona State University is to lead a global consortium of universities that provide research advisory services and public outreach.

"The single-person spacecraft will transform spacewalking," said Brand Griffin, program manager for Genesis Engineering Solutions. "Space workers and tourists alike will have safe, comfortable and quick access outside Orbital Reef."

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