Jeff Bezos Reveals Plans to Build a Space Station Called 'Orbital Reef'

The station is envisioned as a "mixed-use business park"... but in space.
October 25, 2021, 7:12pm
Jeff Bezos Reveals Plans to Build a Space Station Called 'Orbital Reef'
Image: Blue Origin

Jeff Bezos has turned his wealth from Amazon into a play for space. He's already gone to the edge of space in one of his own Blue Origin rockets and broken the record for sending the oldest person ever into space, twice. Now, Blue Origin has announced plans to build a commercial space station called Orbital Reef. 

Orbital Reef is envisioned by Blue Origin as "a commercially developed, owned, and operated space station to be built in low Earth orbit" where companies could operate a hotel, conduct research, do manufacturing, and so on. Really, Orbital Reef will be a "mixed-use business park"... in spaaaaaaace

In a press release, Blue Origin touts its own expertise as well as involvement from Sierra Space, Boeing, and Arizona State University. The company envisions its customers will include "seasoned space agencies, high-tech consortia, sovereign nations without space programs, media and travel companies, funded entrepreneurs and sponsored inventors, and future-minded investors" and that the space station will operate in the "second half of this decade."

What Orbital Reef represents—the extension of earthly commerce into low-Earth orbit (LEO)—is already being led by the International Space Station itself. In 2019, NASA announced that it would begin renting portions of the ISS to commercial activities as part of a general push to commercialize LEO while giving the U.S. an early leg-up. Notably, NASA stands to make very little money from this, because it's a government agency that doesn't aim to make a profit. 

Beyond a nice website, CGI mockups, and big promises, though, Orbital Reef didn't reveal much else publicly. Still, you can sign up to "reserve your place," even though it's the same form for requesting more information about the project.