When Amazon founder Jeff Bezos became an alien, many people didn't realize it.
The space hatch opened, his body was covered with cyan hills and gully, his right hand slipped off the face of a pink alien, hesitated for a moment, then turned and left.
▲ Jeff Bezos on the right, the picture comes from: "Star Trek"
——As an official of the Star Fleet, he made a cameo appearance in the "Star Trek" movie, which may be his closest to the fantasy space world.
This time, he is going to do something big- build a commercial space station in space .
The first "space park" is coming
Previously, space stations were used as "intermediate stations" in space for astronauts to work and live for a long time, as well as to conduct various space experiments and applications.
Now, Blue Origin wants to build the first large-scale multifunctional commercial space station in low-Earth orbit.
This space station is called "Orbital Reef" (Orbital Reef) . It still has the basic purpose of a space station, but at the same time it has become a small paradise floating in space.
In the plan announced by Blue Galaxy, the basic configuration of the space station includes the power system, core modules, life habitat, science modules and spacecraft.
It will take you to the outer space 500 kilometers away from the earth. It covers an area of about 850 square meters, which is about the size of the International Space Station. Officials say it can accommodate up to 10 people.
Although the number of people is small, as a business park, there are many mixed uses:
Sustainable space transportation and automated logistics can be carried out, reducing the cost and complexity of traditional space operators.
It can carry out cutting-edge scientific experiments and equipment manufacturing, and even "space vegetables" can be grown in it.
It is also a remote resort, with large windows of vision, and extremely futuristic. Blue Origin says that people on the space station can watch sunsets and sunrises 32 times a day.
It is said that the little prince who lives on the planet B612 can watch the sunset 44 times a day, and the Blue Origin space station is beginning to feel a little fairy tale.
Blue Origin also takes people's daily life here as the focus of the plan.
It will also include infrastructure and services shared by multiple guests, such as office space, space gardens, vehicle ports, public facilities and other convenient living spaces.
It sounds like a "space luxury hotel".
It is even possible to shoot "microgravity environment" space movies here.
▲Civilian astronauts practice floating in a microgravity environment. Picture from: John Krauss/Netflix
It is not like the existing space travel, it just allows you to swim around in space and then return to Earth.
The difference between "Orbital Reef" as a commercial space station really allows you to live in space for a while.
The customers envisioned by Blue Origin, including governments, space agencies, entrepreneurs and investors, technology companies, media and tourism companies, and ordinary tourists, can be said to be very diversified.
▲ Picture from: Inc. Magazine
Of course, this large-scale project requires a lot of funding and capacity support, and it cannot be completed independently by Blue Origin.
They developed and operated this large-scale project in a joint venture with the commercial aerospace company Sierra Space.
Blue Origin is responsible for the core modules and systems, and the reusable New Glenn rocket launch system. The launch vehicle plans to take off for the first time at the end of 2022 and will transport the hardware needed to build the space station into space.
Sierra Space is responsible for the large-scale integrated flexible environment module (LIFE), which serves as the main living area of the space station, and transports cargo through its Dreamcatcher spacecraft, assisting crews around the world to and from the space station.
In addition, the space station has received support from aerospace partners including Boeing, Redwire Space, and Genesis Engineering Solutions.
They will perform their duties in areas where they are good at.
For example, Boeing is responsible for the science module, as well as the operation and maintenance of the space station, and uses the Starliner manned spacecraft to transport the crew and cargo to the space station.
However, their spacecraft has encountered many problems recently, and it is expected that the key test flight will not be available until mid-2022.
Redwire Space will conduct microgravity research, development and manufacturing here, bringing new scientific research results. Because biophysical phenomena under microgravity will not be affected by the gravity of the earth, these new research results will have precious value.
In addition, Redwire Space will also operate the space station's payload operations and deployable structures.
Genesis Engineering Solutions is mainly responsible for the daily operation of the space station, as well as the traveling single-person spacecraft, so that more consumers can experience the feeling of spacewalking.
Arizona State University will provide related research and consulting services and conduct public propaganda on the space station.
The cooperation with these heavyweight companies or platforms in the aerospace field allows them to demonstrate their proven capabilities and technologies, giving the "orbital reef" more possibilities for landing.
Blue Origin also stated that as the scale expands in the future, more modules will be added and more new services will be provided, including space leasing, hardware technical assistance, robotic services, etc.
Behind it there are vast commercial potentials and opportunities.
Except for proposals and promotional videos, CGI models, etc., Blue Origin does not disclose much specific information, especially the price.
Moreover, this space station is expensive, cost and risk is also high, it needs multiple safe launches to allow humans to go.
The estimated deployment time of the "Orbital Reef" is a bit eye-catching. Officially, it is between 2025 and 2030, which is not far away from us.
In contrast, the "orbital reef" is still the most commercially possible space station program.
The space station is also a "space war"
Competition for private space stations continues to intensify.
Compared with the "orbital reef" of blue origin, its volume is only 340 cubic meters, which is much smaller than the current International Space Station. It can accommodate 4 people. It is planned to start operations in 2027.
Developing space business is the first step for mankind to enter space life.
The space station is an excellent carrier for space commerce and will also drive the rapid development of surrounding industries.
As early as 1869, "The Atlantic Monthly" wrote an article on "the moon built with bricks" and proposed the concept of a space station . Later, many scientists also proposed the concept of a space station.
But the development of the space station can be said to be boiled in fantasy and depressed technically.
▲ In 1951, Werner von Braun published his space station design with a ring structure in the Miner’s Weekly
100 years have passed.
It was not until the Apollo 11 spacecraft first landed on the moon in 1969 that the Soviet Union was defeated in the space race with the United States to land on the moon. Therefore, the Soviet Union turned to a new direction to show their space station—the space station.
In 1971, the Soviet Union’s first space station "Salute 1" was successfully launched into space. This was also the first space station in human history.
Regrettably, when the three astronauts returned to Earth on October 11, due to the abnormal opening of the balance valve on the return module, the return module lost pressure and all the crew members died.
Then the United States launched the Skylab space station in 1973, and conducted a series of scientific experiments on medicine, geology, and astronomy on the space station.
▲ Picture from: NASA
The Soviet Union also followed in 1986, launching the core module of the Mir space station, and then continuously launching different modules to be assembled in space. The Mir space station was built in 1996 and worked until 2001.
The space station with the most global significance is the International Space Station which is still in operation.
It launched its first module "Dawning Functional Cargo Capsule" in November 1998, and then the country’s division of labor was constructed and jointly used to expand and improve it. The International Space Station has also become a symbol of international cooperation in space development. All countries jointly build, operate and use.
In 2010, the International Space Station officially entered the practical stage. It is the largest space platform in orbit and a space laboratory with modern scientific research equipment that can conduct large-scale multidisciplinary research.
▲ Picture from: Shutterstock
However, the life of the International Space Station will also end, and it is expected to be decommissioned from 2028 to 2030.
The research and exploration of these aerospace institutions over the past century has also laid a sufficient technical foundation for the current commercialization of space.
NASA has been encouraging a commercial successor to replace the aging International Space Station, and they will also provide funding for this.
It is reported that 53 companies and organizations have expressed interest in the commercial low-Earth orbit space station program.
▲ Picture from: REUTERS/Isaiah J. Downing
The space station boom has brought us closer to space
Multiple studies and analyses have shown that it is difficult for private space stations to achieve a balance of payments in the near future, but the current space economy is developing too fast.
Therefore, the government and many private space airlines cooperate and join forces to make a more complete future space station available as soon as possible.
The Blue Origin "Orbital Reef" space station is one of the potential candidates to take over as the International Space Station.
▲ Picture from: Redwire Space
Of course, there are many competitors in front of it, in addition to the aforementioned Starlab, which was created by the three aerospace airlines mentioned above, andAxiom Space has been approved to start the construction of a free flight base.
▲ Picture from:Axiom Space
The base will first be connected to the International Space Station, and then the development of a new space station will be smooth.
▲ Picture from: AxStation internal renderings designed by Phillipe Starck
Another space station maker that has become so prosperous is China's "Tiangong" space station.
In April of this year, the Long March 5B rocket ignited and launched, successfully putting China's "Tianhe" core module into orbit, marking China's entry into the stage of independent construction of a space station. On October 16, the Shenzhou 13 manned spacecraft completed its autonomous docking with the space station assembly. Three Chinese astronauts entered the Tianhe core module, and the Chinese space station opened the era of long-term manned residence.
According to the space station construction mission plan, China will continue to implement 11 missions in 2021 and 2022, and the space station can be completed in orbit by 2022.
In a statement, NASA described the current moment as the "renaissance of manned spaceflight."
As more and more people fly to space and do more things in space flight, this also attracts more people to carry out more activities in low earth orbit, and the market is also growing.
The participation of the government and many private aerospace airlines will make the "Road to the Space Station" more lively and allow the commercial space station to develop and land faster.
We need all aerospace and aviation equipment to be grounded, safe and reliable, that they can fly into space routinely and more economically, and a more mature commercial consumption space needs to be constructed…
▲The space hotel "Voyager Station" (Voyager Station) of the orbital assembly company OAC
Now, we are still on the way to quickly explore Mars and the moon.
The space station in low-Earth orbit is the key point for us to connect with everything in the universe, and it is the place where all space exploration begins.
It allows our technology and the future to extend to space steadily, and it also reveals the limitations that we can see with the naked eye on Earth.
On the bright side, it is being valued like never before.
After all, we need a space destination closer to home, and we also need this place to move from science fiction to reality to everyone.
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