'Orbital Reef': ASU plays key role in future privatized space station

This week Jeff Bezos' space company Blue Origin announced they’re building a new privatized space station to orbit the Earth. 

It's big news for space lovers, but in Arizona, the impact is even larger.

This is Blue Origin's new hope for the future – "Orbital Reef" – and Arizona State University is playing a key role.

"When the opportunity came up for ASU to become involved in this project, it was just a perfect fit," said Jessica Rousset of the ASU Interplanetary Initiative.

In a promotional video, the space flight firm owned by Jeff Bezos says "Orbital Reef" will open the scope on who can research or travel in space.

"We're working very hard to make sure "Orbital Reef" is not just for the entities that have had space so far," said Brent Sherwood of Blue Origin.

Private entities, government, and even tourists can have space on what essentially is a privatized international space station – the ISS is getting up there in age with a life span expected to end this decade.

ASU’s Interplanetary Initiative says they’ll lead what’s called the "University Advisory Council," which includes dozens of universities working on the research and educational component of the project. The Initiative says this is about a community of people, in one place in space. The timeframe for launch is not that far off on the horizon.

"A lot of the technology involved in building the space station, as well as the transportation needed to get there, is all very much underway and there is a timeline to get this up and running before the end of the decade," Rousset said.

ASU says the advisory council will meet for the first time next month to start their role in this venture in space.

The Interplanetary Initiative at ASU says they’re currently involved in 25 different space missions. This makes 26.

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