The partnership between Blue Origin and Sierra Space to develop the Orbital Reef space station is facing uncertainty, according to anonymous sources. Although the project was announced in 2021, there have been no recent updates, and it seems that Orbital Reef is no longer a top priority for either company. Blue Origin’s focus has shifted to projects such as its Blue Moon lunar lander, while Sierra Space is devoting resources to its Dream Chaser spaceplane. It is increasingly likely that both companies will go their separate ways, abandoning the joint effort to develop Orbital Reef.
Blue Origin won a $130 million contract from NASA for the design work on Orbital Reef. However, it is unclear how this potential partnership dissolution would affect the contract, as there are currently no plans to transfer it. Despite the lack of updates and potential separation, Sierra Space continues to develop its habitat concept for Orbital Reef, known as LIFE. The company has been regularly testing and posting updates about milestones in testing habitats, such as burst testing of a sub-scale prototype. Sierra also recently announced plans for a “pathfinder” demonstration mission of its LIFE habitat in 2026.
This development reflects the competitive nature of the private space sector, with several companies working on their own private space stations. Projects led by Axiom, Voyager Space, Northrop Grumman, and Vast are among the competitors. Changes in partnerships and company involvement are not uncommon in the early phases of projects like Orbital Reef, according to NASA. While the future of the Blue Origin-Sierra Space partnership remains uncertain, both companies will continue to pursue their individual projects and goals in the space industry.