WATCH: Blue Origin, Boeing chart course for 'business park' in space
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Billionaire Jeff Bezos-owned Blue Origin on Monday unveiled plans to develop a commercial space station called "Orbital Reef" with Boeing, aiming to launch the spacecraft in the second half of this decade.
The venture will be built in partnership with Sierra Space, the spaceflight wing of defence contractor Sierra Nevada Corp, and will be backed by Redwire Space, Genesis Engineering Solutions and Arizona State University.
Orbital Reef will be operated as a "mixed use business park", and plans to provide the infrastructure needed to scale economic activity and open new markets in space, Blue Origin and Sierra Space said.
"Seasoned space agencies, high-tech consortia, sovereign nations without space programs, media and travel companies, funded entrepreneurs and sponsored inventors, and future-minded investors all have a place on Orbital Reef," the companies said in a statement.
Sierra in April announced plans to offer the first free-flying commercial space station.
In July, Blue Origin had a successful debut space tourism flight, with Bezos and three others aboard. Earlier this month, 90-year-old US. actor William Shatner - Captain James Kirk of "Star Trek" fame - became the oldest person in space aboard a rocketship flown by Blue Origin
Meanwhile, UN Office for Outer Space Affairs Director, Simonetta Di Pippo, told Sputnik this month that space tourism will likely grow in the near future boosted by new technology and capabilities.
"First of all, let's say that tourism in space is not a new phenomenon, because we had some space tourists in the past mainly flying away with the Russian Soyuz capsule to the space station. However, it's clear that with new technology and capabilities, space tourism could become a market in itself and grow in the coming years, Di Pippo said.