SPACE RACE: Blue Origin’s New Station Passes Major Hurdle with NASA’s $172M Seal of Approval

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In a groundbreaking move that might as well redefine the term ‘room with a view,’ NASA has inked a deal with Blue Origin, granting them a hefty $172 million to get cracking on a space station not just for astronauts, but for tourists too. Named Orbital Reef, this venture, jointly taken up with Sierra Space, is not your average space-related headline; it’s about making the cosmos accessible, and not just through a telescope lens but possibly through the window of your next holiday suite. Let’s dive into what’s making Orbital Reef not just a future destination but a beacon of human achievement in space habitation.

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Sierra Space, in their ambitious endeavor Orbital Reef, have been making significant strides, passing not one, but four critical technological milestones. These advancements aren’t just fancy tech jargon; they’re the backbone of creating a self-sustaining environment in the vacuum of space.

Imagine a place where even your urine doesn’t go to waste, pun intended. Yes, you read that right.

Among these milestones, a system to recycle urine into something usable is making waves, because let’s face it, water’s a luxury commodity up there.

Diving deeper into the specifics, Orbital Reef’s success isn’t just in making sure humans can live off their own waste. The venture has proudly passed rigorous tests for air purification, urine recycling, and maintaining water tanks in the harsh environs of space. This isn’t just about survival; it’s about creating a livable, breathable atmosphere that, frankly, sounds like it could give some Earth-based establishments a run for their money.

Behind the scenes of these technological marvels is NASA’s vision. The space agency is looking to hand over the keys to the lower Earth orbit real estate to private enterprises like Orbital Reef.

Why, you ask? Cost efficiency, and a keen eye on the prize – getting humans back on the Moon and marching towards Mars.

The current state of the International Space Station (ISS), with its aging bones showing cracks, air leaks, and system failures, makes NASA’s pivot towards commercial space stations not just sensible, but critical.

The political arena is also playing its part in this cosmic shift. With the Biden administration throwing its weight behind keeping the ISS alive and kicking until at least 2030, there’s a clear timeframe for this transition to privately-owned space habitats to take place. It’s a race against time, and decay, to ensure humanity has a foot (or a space boot) firmly placed in space.

Now, for the elephant in the room – the cost of a ticket on this cosmic cruise. While the exact price tag for a stay at the Orbital Reef is still up in the air, speculation suggests it might orbit around the current costs of space tourism offered by Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket ventures. It’s a waiting game for those dreaming of sipping their morning coffee while floating over the blue marble.

In essence, the Orbital Reef project, backed by NASA’s not-so-small fortune and driven by the vision of companies like Blue Origin and Sierra Space, is setting the stage for the next chapter in space exploration. One where the stars aren’t just points of light in the night sky, but potential next-door neighbors.

As we inch closer to making space tourism an everyday affair, it’s hard not to dream of the possibilities. Who knows, the next family vacation could very well be in orbit.

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