Advancing the Future of Space Exploration: Blue Origin & Sierra Space’s Next Chapter

The International Space Station (ISS) is facing an uncertain future, as it continues to age and face numerous problems. In recent years, the ISS has experienced issues such as cracks, air leaks, toilet failures, temperature variations, and oxygen supply system failures. Despite these challenges, the Biden administration has committed to keeping the ISS operational until at least 2030.

NASA has been working on transitioning to privately owned space stations in preparation for the ISS’s eventual decommission. The Orbital Reef, a future privately owned space station, has passed key milestones in developing critical technologies, such as a system to recycle astronaut urine. This regenerative system will provide clean air and drinking water for astronauts aboard the space station. By recycling urine and other waste, costs are reduced and less supplies need to be launched into space.

As part of this transition process, NASA has awarded funding to companies like Blue Origin and Sierra Space to develop commercialized space stations in low-Earth orbit. These stations could potentially replace the ISS in the future. Outsourcing space station development allows NASA to focus on bigger priorities such as establishing a permanent human presence on the moon through the Artemis missions.

By retiring the ISS, NASA will free up resources to focus on lunar missions. These missions include building a space station in lunar orbit and a base on the lunar surface. The projected cost of these missions is estimated at $93 billion between 2012 and 2025 not including launch costs. Moving forward, NASA plans to work with industry partners to ensure competition, reduce costs and meet demand for space stations from NASA and other customers.

In conclusion, while the ISS may face significant challenges in its final years of operation

By Sophia Gonzalez

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