Blue Origin and Sierra Space have announced plans for Orbital Reef, a commercially developed, owned, and operated space station to be built in low Earth orbit.
The station 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. Orbital Reef is backed by space industry leaders and teammates including Boeing, Redwire Space, Genesis Engineering Solutions, and Arizona State University.
Designed to open multiple new markets in space, Orbital Reef will provide anyone with the opportunity to establish their own address on 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 will start operating in the second half of this decade.
Fans of science fiction writer William Gibson recall the high orbit archipelago from his 1988 novel Mona Lisa Overdrive:
Tessier-Ashpool ascended to high orbit's archipelago to find the ecliptic sparsely marked with military stations and the first automated factories of the cartels. And here they began to build. Their combined wealth, initially, would barely have matched Ono-Sendai's outlay for a single process-module of that multinational's orbital semiconductor operation, but Marie-France demonstrated an unexpected entrepreneurial flare, establishing a highly profitable data haven serving the needs of less reputable sectors of the international banking community.