Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin wants to build a private space station in low-earth orbit in the next decade, intended for research, commerce, space tourism or as a leasable "address for orbit."
The Orbital Reef project will be built in partnership with the Sierra Space company and is now asking for people or companies that would like to reserve their space on the planned station. The announcement of the plan called the space station a "business park" for space, where companies will share the infrastructure provided by Blue Origin and Sierra Space while renting or owning modules or spaces within the planned station for different purposes.
The announcement did not specify whether any particular federal or international approvals are needed for the space station to become a reality, the cost of renting space on the station, whether there is sustained private interest to fill the planned space, or many other logistical details.
The International Space Station is the only fully operational and inhabitable space station currently in orbit, which is managed through an international agreement that segments the station into a Russian section and a U.S. section. Axiom Space, which plans to offer tourism to the ISS, has secured permits to attach its own modules to the current space station within the coming decade. The Chinese government is also currently building a space station, while India and Russia have both proposed such projects in the past.
Blue Origin has faced allegations that it has fostered a sexist and toxic work environment and created a culture that struggles to compete with the speed and prowess of SpaceX; Protocol has spoken to two anonymous former Blue Origin internal leaders who confirmed their own experiences of those allegations. Blue Origin and Bezos have been embroiled in a feud with Elon Musk and SpaceX over federal contracts for the planned return to the moon; the company has sued the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for granting the contracts to SpaceX.