Home Technology Expect split on space station partnership at Blue Origin, sources say.

Expect split on space station partnership at Blue Origin, sources say.

Expect split on space station partnership at Blue Origin, sources say.

Blue Origin, the aerospace company founded by Jeff Bezos, is undergoing changes in its corporate partnership to build a commercial space station, known as Orbital Reef. The company has reassigned a significant portion of its employees working on the project to other programs such as Blue Origin’s moon lander contract with NASA and an in-space mobility project. This shakeup indicates the challenges facing industry plans to develop a private replacement for the aging International Space Station (ISS). Brent Sherwood, the head of Blue Origin’s Advanced Development Programs overseeing Orbital Reef, is expected to leave the company, while Amazon executive Dave Limp will replace Blue Origin’s current CEO by the end of the year.

The partnership between Blue Origin and Sierra Space, the defense contractor’s spinoff, has become strained with feuding and disagreements between the companies’ managements. Blue Origin employees working on Orbital Reef have been reassigned to a secretive “space mobility” program for the development of maneuverable satellites. Others have joined the Blue Moon project, the company’s proposed astronaut moon lander. Blue Origin plans to continue working on its own version of a space station without Sierra’s involvement, although the precise details of these plans remain unclear. The company has not officially notified NASA of any changes in the partnership.

As the ISS is expected to retire around 2030, NASA is funding Orbital Reef and three other early proposals for private space stations. The agency plans to allocate additional funding for one or two space station proposals in 2026. However, industry executives are concerned about the tight deadline and the potential dominance of China’s national space station in the low-Earth orbit research and tourism market if the ISS is retired without a viable replacement. Some skeptics argue that the orbital market may not be large enough to sustain four separate privately-built space stations.

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