Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin is eyeing the commercial space station business — wants NASA as one of its first customers
- Jeff Bezos’
Blue Originis looking to make its own ‘free-flyer’ commercial space stations.
- A new job posting on the spaceflight company’s official website indicates that the company is looking to hire talent to head up its ‘
Orbital Habitat Formulation’ product line.
- One of the requirements is that the candidate needs to have an extensive network at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (
NASA) that Blue Origin can tap into.
The job listing indicates that the company is looking for someone to lead the development of commercial space stations in Low-Earth orbit (LEO) as a part of its new product line ‘Orbital Habitat Formulation’.
“LEO habitable stations, learning from but going beyond the ISS (International Space Station), are a first step,” said the job description first spotted by SpaceNews,
Blue Origin asserts that these space stations will be ‘fundamentally’ different from the other ‘exploration habitats’ that the company is also planning on building.
On the one hand, the company wants NASA to sign up, and on the other, it’s also looking at new acquisitions that help it create these habitats.
Blue Origin targets NASA as its first customer
Hunting for funds and designing a robust product strategy in only one part of the job. The other is the ability to understand government requirements — particularly from NASA.
Whoever scores the position will need to have an extensive network at the US-based space agency that Blue Origin can tap “to shape and accelerate the acquisition strategy for LEO destination systems.”
But NASA has hit pause on its promised support
NASA announced its LEO commercialization strategy last year. It said that would support the development of both commercial modules installed on the ISS as well as ‘free-flyer’ space stations operating independently of the ISS — like the ones that Blue Origin wants to build.
However, last month NASA hit pause on its NextSTEP program for a free-flyer solicitation, also known as Appendix K. According to officials [source], the space agency is not planning on pursuing the endeavour for the time being.
“We are reevaluating how we want to do that solicitation. At this time we will not be moving forward with Appendix K,” said Angela Hart, LEO commercialization manager at NASA during the ISS Research and Development Conference held online on August 27.
But the possibility is still on the cards, according to Phil McAlister, director of commercial spaceflight programs at NASA, who was on the same panel with Hart. “I can’t promise any specific timelines associated with that, but we are definitely working on the free flyer and intend to release a solicitation soon on that once we get our strategy all agreed to internally,” he said.
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