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Commercial Orbital Reef space station passes NASA’s design review

Proposed Orbital Reef space station

Capitalism in space: A proposed commercial space station dubbed Orbital Reef and being built by a partnership led by Sierra Space and Blue Origin has passed its NASA’s design review, allowing for construction to now begin.

The review, conducted as part of a $130 million development contract from NASA, found no issues with the station’s design.

This commercial partnership also includes Boeing, Redwire, Mitsubishi, Genesis Engineering, and Arizona State University, and plans its launch before 2030 when ISS will be retired. This quote from the article I think is important:

“We’re going as fast as we can,” Steve Lindsey, chief strategy officer at Sierra Space, said during a panel at the Goddard Memorial Symposium March 25. “We don’t want to have a gap like we did with crew back in the last decade.”

Three other private space stations are also under construction or being planned, all hoping to be operational prior to ’30. If even two of these launch, the 2030s will be very exciting indeed.

Conscious Choice cover

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • sippin_bourbon

    This is a good step forward.

    Also, Mr Z. Not sure if you noticed. This story got picked up on Rantingly.

  • David Telford

    I love it. Can’t help but think this is good stuff.

    BTW, what do they do up there?

  • sippin_bourbon


    The concept behind Orbital Reef is a Low Earth Orbit business park. So really, they do whatever the leasing company wants to do. Redwire specifically is associated with 3D manufacture. You may have to dig into the website for the Reef on other potential uses.

  • Edward

    David Telford asked: “what do they do up there?

    Right now, on the ISS, they mostly do science and research. NASA has been reluctant to do manufacturing for public consumption and has been reluctant to do tourism, thus it is considered a “National Lab.” Even the four people who are going to ISS on a commercial mission are saying that it is a business trip, not a tourist trip. SpaceX’s first commercial passenger launch even did some science and testing of space hardware.

    Many people hope that the commercial space stations will allow commercial space-manufacturing for public consumption and straight up tourism. I believe that a lack of these two options has led to a lack of interest, reporting, and knowledge on what they do up there. Reports tend to be limited to scurrilous reporting on experiments involving beer hops, Coke vs. Pepsi, or other seemingly frivolous experiments. Meanwhile, there have been a couple thousand experiments performed, and few people can describe any of them and even fewer can explain why they are relevant to our knowledge of the universe or to our everyday lives.

    Even though I expect much of what they will do up there will be proprietary, I hope the public’s lack of knowledge changes with the commercial space stations, as companies start bragging about their space-made products for sale to the rest of us.

    From the article:

    “What’s especially exciting is how the Orbital Reef team is combining NASA’s goals with the needs of others to promote new commercial markets.”

    That seems especially exciting indeed.

  • Edward

    David Telford asked: “what do they do up there?

    The video linked below, which I came across this evening, does not discuss Orbital Reef specifically, but it does discuss some of the expectations of the future commercial space stations as well as the decommissioning of ISS, especially in light of the loss of Russian cooperation in space endeavors: (14 minutes; “Has Putin Doomed The International Space Station?”)

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