Will Explore Technology Partnerships for Orbital Reef, World’s First Commercial Space Station
LOUISVILLE, Colo. – March 17, 2022 – Sierra Space, a leading commercial space company with 1,100 employees, more than 500 missions and over 30 years of space flight heritage, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), a leading company in the space development industry in Japan, announced today that the companies have jointly signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
The MOU agreement outlines plans for Sierra Space and MHI to collaborate on a wide range of technologies regarding the development of Orbital Reef, a commercially developed, owned and operated space station to be built in low Earth orbit (LEO) by investors Sierra Space and Blue Origin.
Sierra Space and MHI have commenced work on incorporating MHI expertise in the development of Orbital Reef, bringing in technologies and expertise from MHI’s years of experience with the International Space Station (ISS) program.
“At Sierra Space we are building a platform in space to benefit life on Earth,” said Tom Vice, Sierra Space CEO. “We are proud to formalize a long-standing relationship with MHI and look forward to leveraging its considerable technological expertise, as we continue building Orbital Reef and the next generation of space transportation.”
“MHI is very excited to collaborate with Sierra Space and use MHI’s technologies and experience earned over years to contribute to the development of Orbital Reef, the program led by Sierra Space, Blue Origin and their international partners,” said Tomoe Nishigaya, Vice President and Senior General Manager of Space Systems at MHI. “We look forward to further collaboration with Sierra Space as to how MHI’s technologies, products and services may provide better experience for users and customers of the space station. Additionally, MHI plans to cooperate with JAXA and other aerospace companies in Japan, leveraging strong relationships built through participation to the ISS program.”
About Sierra Space
Sierra Space products and programs are working towards a more accessible space economy. The company is rapidly advancing toward the launch of the world’s only winged commercial spaceplane, the Dream Chaser®. As the next generation of space transportation, the Dream Chaser will perform cargo supply and return missions for NASA, set to begin in late 2022, delivering up to 12,000 pounds of cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) at a time. The return journey will carry critical data, generated by ISS researcher experiments, enabling earth-bound scientists to benefit from much faster access to these unique results. Dream Chaser is a reusable spaceplane, uniquely capable of a smooth 1.5 low-g re-entry for crew and cargo transportation with the ability to land on existing commercial runways worldwide.
Sierra Space is the developer of the Large Integrated Flexible Environment (LIFETM) Habitat, a modular, three-story commercial habitation and science platform. The unique structure will provide opportunities for multiple businesses including manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and other sectors, to optimize zero gravity benefits. The LIFE Habitat will be able to be deployed in low-Earth orbit, on the lunar surface, or lunar orbit, and as a transport vehicle to Mars. Both Dream Chaser and LIFE Habitat will launch using conventional rocket propulsion systems.
The Dream Chaser spaceplane and LIFE platform are central components of the joint partnership Orbital Reef commercial space station and mixed-use business park being developed in partnership with Blue Origin.
About Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Group
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Group is one of the world’s leading industrial groups, spanning energy, logistics & infrastructure, industrial machinery, aerospace and defense.
MHI has been a critical player in Japan’s aerospace industry, in the development of the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) for the International Space Station (ISS), development, manufacturing and operation of HTV, a spacecraft that delivers supplies to the ISS, and development of equipment for life science experiments. MHI completed a series of nine successful resupply missions to the ISS, with H-IIB Launch Vehicle and HTV, proving its high level of reliability. Furthermore, in the field of life sciences experiments, MHI has supplied JEM with centrifuges and mouse habitat units, which are capable of individually rearing a mouse in each cage. MHI has achieved successful delivery and live return of all mice on five missions through present day.
MHI Group combines cutting-edge technology with deep experience to deliver innovative, integrated solutions that help to realize a carbon neutral world, improve the quality of life and ensure a safer world.