There could be a slew of private successors to the International Space Station. Blue Origin, Boeing, Sierra Space, and several other partners revealed today (Oct. 25) that they plan to develop Orbital Reef. This commercial off-Earth settlement will be operational by the late 2020s. According to project team members, national governments, commercial enterprises, and space tourists are among the potential customers for Orbital Reef.
The outpost would initially supplement, but eventually replace, the International Space Station (ISS), which is scheduled to be abandoned between 2028 and 2030. Nanoracks, Voyager Space, and Lockheed Martin presented designs for their private space station, called Starlab, just four days ago. Axiom Space, based in Houston, had previously stated that it plans to launch modules to the ISS starting in 2024, then detach them and operate them as a free-flying commercial outpost. Orbital Reef is a space industry partnership comprising some heavy hitters.
The corporation will also provide science modules and convey people and freight to the outpost via its Starliner capsule. Orbital Reef’s primary living quarters will be Sierra Space’s extendable Large Integrated Flexible Environment (LIFE) modules. According to corporate representatives, the corporation’s Dream Chaser space plane will also be accessible for freight and crew delivery.