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Orbital Reef: A Mixed-Use Business Park—In Space

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Airing concurrently with the feverish height of the Space Race, the original run of Star Trek, featuring franchise icons like William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, touched the hearts of millions as it added a veneer of fantasy to the alluring, emergent arena of space exploration. Nowadays, we have decades of sci-fi films and series to draw upon, yet the average person’s sentiment toward everything space-related has unfortunately soured.

If only space, especially commercial space flight, were to become accessible to ordinary dreamers and doers, the same heady optimism that once made children yearn to explore the stars with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock might just return. With it, we could pick up where we left off in the heroic saga of space travel and re-examine humanity’s destiny beyond this unavoidably finite world. Sierra Space’s Orbital Reef mixed-use business park is just the spark needed to make space awe-inspiring once more while simultaneously rendering the beyond-Earth domain realistically accessible for the first time.

Built in collaboration with Blue Origin, Sierra Space’s Orbital Reef team also includes aerospace giant Boeing and the contractors Redwire Space and Genesis Engineering. The new space station is intended to be habitable by at least 10 people by 2027 with Sierra Space’s accompanying Dream Chaser® spaceplane expected to be ready for deployment by 2025 to provide transportation.

Sierra Space is currently valued at $4.5 billion after raising over $1.4 billion in Series A funding, representing one of the best-funded civilian enterprises into the beyond-Earth domain. Once operational, the commercial space station will empower civilians to tap into the vast economic and scientific potential the low Earth orbit environment has to offer.

Anyone seeking to enter space for either research, private space flight, or other business purposes will be ferried to the orbital outpost on Sierra Space’s Dream Chaser® spaceplane, which escapes Earth’s gravity using conventional rockets but can also land on a runway, mimicking the iconic NASA Space Shuttle.

Featuring the innovative, inflatable LIFE™ habitat, the orbital platform will offer tenants and visitors world-class amenities while providing convenient access to the unique opportunities inherent to the zero-gravity orbital environment. Despite prioritizing comfort, Orbital Reef is designed to be optimal, not opulent.

Innovators have long dreamed of the new markets that could be opened with reliable commercial access to the cosmos. From mining to medicine to even microgravity research, the human endeavors capable of flourishing amongst the stars are myriad, and for the first time, Sierra Space’s Orbital Reef will empower intrepid individuals to harness such potential even if the civilians involved aren’t worth billions or haven’t undergone punishing training to become world class astronauts.

Beyond the central LIFE™ habitat, Orbital Reef will also feature smaller node modules and a port for Sierra Space’s Dream Chaser®. Orbital Reef’s prototype features a science lab, a medical bay, a hydroponics garden, a bathroom, a galley, and crew quarters. This basic model can easily be expanded upon, however, offering unique opportunities for scaling up once tomorrow’s space opportunists start taking advantage of this first-of-its-kind, privately owned, mixed-use orbital business park. Allowing individuals involved in research, industry, or even international diplomacy to collaborate in Earth’s orbit for the first time, Orbital Reef promises to usher in a new era of prosperity and innovation that comes into focus once we leave our planet’s atmosphere—and limited modes of thinking—behind.

Designed to ideally accommodate human inhabitants while also offering unique access to space-based robotics and other research technologies, Orbital Reef’s first priority is nonetheless to keep its occupants safe. It’s true that the space domain presents unique dangers to explorers and entrepreneurs alike, but the same could be said for any frontier humanity has ever come up against during its long, storied history. Did we turn back at the shores of the Atlantic or the slopes of the Rockies? If we had, none of us would be here today. What new vistas might elude us should we not embrace an exciting frontier we can scarcely imagine?

Sierra Space is unwilling to be held back by what-ifs, leading to lost opportunities. Blazing forward to deploy humanity’s first truly accessible beyond-Earth environment, we aim to one day make it just as easy to have an address in space as it is to establish a business in any terrestrial city. Here’s to seizing unprecedented opportunities for greater creativity, collaboration, and innovation with Orbital Reef, low-Earth orbit’s soon-to-be premier commercial destination.