A Closer Look at Blue Origin’s Orbital Reef Commercial Space Station

Orbital Reef commercial space station (Credit: Orbital Reef)

NASA has released the selection statement that lays out the space agency’s reasoning for awarding Nanoracks, Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman a total of $415.6 million to develop plans for private space stations under the Commercial LEO Destinations (CLD) program. The facilities are designed to maintain a permanent U.S. presence in Earth orbit when the International Space Station (ISS) is retired in 2030.

In this story, we’ll look at the Blue Origin’s Orbital Reef station. The project summary is drawn from publicly available information. Excerpts from the selection statement follow. Long paragraphs in the latter have been broken up to improve readability. Acronyms have been spelled out for the sake of clarity.

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A Closer Look at Northrop Grumman Commercial Space Station

Northrop Grumman’s free flyer commercial destination design leverages flight proven elements to provide the base module for extended capabilities including science, tourism, industrial experimentation, and building of infrastructure beyond initial design. (Credits: Northrop Grumman)

NASA has released the selection statement that lays out the space agency’s reasoning for awarding Nanoracks, Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman a total of $415.6 million to develop plans for private space stations under the Commercial LEO Destinations (CLD) program. The facilities are designed to maintain a permanent U.S. presence in Earth orbit when the International Space Station (ISS) is retired in 2030.

In this story, we’ll look at the Northrop Grumman’s station. The project summary is drawn from publicly available information. Excerpts from the selection statement follow. Long paragraphs in the latter have been broken up to improve readability. Acronyms have been spelled out for the sake of clarity.

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A Closer Look at Nanoracks’ Starlab Commercial Space Station

Starlab, a commercial low-Earth orbit space station is being planned for use by 2027. (Credit: Nanoracks)

NASA has released the selection statement that lays out the space agency’s reasoning for awarding Nanoracks, Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman a total of $415.6 million to develop plans for private space stations under the Commercial LEO Destinations (CLD) program. The facilities are designed to maintain a permanent U.S. presence in Earth orbit when the International Space Station (ISS) is retired in 2030.

In this story, we’ll look at the Nanoracks’ Starlab station. The project summary is drawn from publicly available information. Excerpts from the selection statement follow. Long paragraphs in the latter have been broken up to improve readability. Acronyms have been spelled out for the sake of clarity.

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Five Space Station Research Results Contributing to Deep Space Exploration

European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst works on the MICS experiment aboard the International Space Station. Observations of how cement reacts in space during the hardening process may help engineers better understand its microstructure and material properties, which could improve cement processing techniques on Earth and lead to the design of safe, lightweight space habitats. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — More than 3,000 experiments have been conducted aboard the  International Space Station during the 21 years humans have been living and working in space. These experiments have provided insights helping improve life back on Earth and explore farther into the solar system. Researchers have shared these results in thousands of scientific publications.

Over the past few months, scientists shared the outcomes of space station studies that could help us recover more water from life support systems, construct Moon bases, grow plants in space, and more.

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Paragon and Northrop Grumman Finalize HALO Life Support Contract Valued in Excess of $100 Million

Artist illustration of Northrop Grumman’s HALO module and the Power Propulsion Element which form the first critical component of NASA’s Gateway. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

TUCSON, Ariz., Jan. 17, 2022 (Paragon SDC PR) — Paragon Space Development Corporation (Paragon) is proud to announce that Northrop Grumman has finalized its contract with Paragon valued in excess of $100 million for the life support system of the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) program. HALO will be deployed in lunar orbit as the first crew module of NASA’s Lunar Gateway. HALO will serve as both a crew habitat and docking station for spacecraft that will routinely travel between the Earth and the moon.

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Collins Aerospace to Provide an Earth-like Atmosphere for Future Travelers Heading into Orbit

  • $2.6 million contract to provide life support systems for an undisclosed customer
  • Leveraging existing technologies for commercial use will enable greater space travel

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa, Aug. 23, 2021 (Collins Aerospace PR) – Collins Aerospace has been awarded a $2.6 million contract by an undisclosed customer for Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS) that will support a mission to establish a privately owned and operated orbital outpost in low Earth orbit.

The ECLSS is a suite of technologies that enable livable conditions as low as 250 kilometers above Earth’s surface. The ECLSS includes air revitalization and pressure control systems made up of cabin fans, heat exchangers, carbon dioxide removal, trace contaminant control, valves, regulators and smoke detection. Additionally, it includes an active thermal control system to maintain optimal temperatures in space.

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JAXA, Honda to Begin a Feasibility Study on Circulative Renewable Energy System for Lunar Outposts, Rovers

Conceptual pressurized crewed lunar rover. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA/Honda PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Honda R&D Co., Ltd. (Honda) today announced the plan to begin a joint feasibility study on a “circulative renewable energy system” in space, which is designed to supply oxygen, hydrogen, and electricity for human outposts and rovers. JAXA and Honda have been conducting a joint research on this system to create an environment in space where people can stay and conduct activities over an extended period of time.

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Paragon Announced as Northrop Grumman Gateway HALO Partner

Artist’s concept of the Gateway Power and Propulsion Element, or PPE, and Habitation and Logistics Outpost, or HALO, in orbit around the Moon. The gold box on the right side of the image depicts the HERMES payload. The ERSA payload is the silver box just below it. (Credits: NASA)

TUCSON, Ariz., May 21, 2021 (Paragon SDC PR) — Paragon Space Development Corporation (Paragon) is proud to announce it is part of the Northrop Grumman team for the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) contract awarded by NASA. According to NASA, the HALO module will be roughly the size of a small apartment and able to accommodate short-duration stays for crews arriving on the Orion spacecraft. 

Paragon is responsible for the design and implementation of the HALO Environment Control and Life Support System (ECLSS). The ECLSS provides a comfortable, shirt-sleeve environment for the visiting crew members during their stay at the Lunar Gateway. This includes maintenance of the air and temperature as well as safe levels of oxygen, carbon dioxide, humidity and trace contaminants. In pursuit of these objectives, Paragon will apply decades worth of human spaceflight development experience and leverage key expertise, knowledge and innovations to successfully deliver the HALO module ECLSS.

“The HALO life support system is optimized to meet the specific mission requirements established by NASA and Northrop Grumman and it’s going to do so efficiently, safely, and affordably,” said Barry Finger, VP Engineering and Chief Engineer.

“We are extremely enthused to be part of this exciting endeavor and we look forward to supporting our Northrop Grumman partner on this important project. NASA’s HALO program is just one more indication – a marker if you will – of America’s vital re-focus on long-duration space and our renewed commitment to human space exploration. The HALO program will provide the precursor to extended missions to Mars, and should be inspiring to all Americans and the world community,” said Grant Anderson, President and CEO and Co-Founder of Paragon.

Paragon has been a trusted leader in supporting mission critical operations for space, military, and commercial customers around the world for over 28 years. For more information and other news, visit www.paragonsdc.com.

NASA Names Robyn Gatens Director for International Space Station

Robyn Gatens (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA has named Robyn Gatens as director of the International Space Station for the agency following about seven months of her serving as acting director of the program. Kathy Lueders, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, made the official appointment, effective March 28.

“Robyn’s leadership, experience and strategic vision for the International Space Station have been clearly demonstrated as she’s worked closely with the station team as deputy and acting director,” said Lueders. “I’m confident she will continue our efforts of maximizing the space station for science, research and technology development, including enabling a robust low-Earth orbit economy.”

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Paragon Space Development Corporation Key Life Support System Onboard ISS Resupply Mission

TUCSON, Ariz. (Paragon Space Development Corporation PR) — Paragon Space Development Corporation (Paragon) is excited to announce that its latest life support technology was launched aboard Northrop Grumman’s 15th commercial resupply services mission (NG CRS-15) which arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday.  Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft successfully launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Saturday, February 20th with over 8,000 pounds of scientific equipment and experiments and cargo aboard. 

Paragon’s Brine Processor System is a key part of the overall Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS), which protects, preserves and promotes human life.  Paragon’s brine processing technology – which is vital to generating water for the crew of a spacecraft, space station or potential transport to or habitation on the Moon or Mars – represents a ground-breaking innovation that will be critical to long-duration human spaceflight missions.

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NASA Names Robyn Gatens Acting Director for International Space Station

Robyn Gatens (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Kathy Lueders, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, has named Robyn Gatens as acting director of the International Space Station at NASA Headquarters. The appointment was effective Aug. 25. Sam Scimemi, the former director, has assumed new responsibilities as a special assistant for the agency’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.

“Robyn has demonstrated her leadership and strategic vision for the International Space Station and our efforts to enable a robust low-Earth orbit economy, and I am confident she will continue to do so as acting director,” said Lueders.

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NASA Selects Paragon Space Development to Develop Advanced Cryogenic Tank

Paragon Space Development Corp. will continue to develop a new tank designed to better store cryogenic propellants with the help of funding from NASA.

The space agency selected Paragon’s ellipsoidal propellant tank (EPT) for continued funding under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

The phase II award is worth up to $750,000 over two years. NASA funded the project under a smaller phase I award.

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NASA Awards ECLSS & Human Health Small Business Contracts

The space station formerly known as the Deep Space Gateway (Credit: NASA)

NASA has selected 10 projects designed to improve life support systems and human health in space for funding under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

Nine of the proposals deal with life support and habitation systems with a tenth involves human research and health maintenance. The two-year SBIR Phase II projects are eligible for up to $750,000 in funding.

Improving life support systems are an important area of research as NASA aims at sending astronauts beyond low Earth orbit to the moon and various deep-space destinations.

Below is a list of selected projects followed by their abstracts.

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Made in Space Selected for 2 NASA SBIR Awards

NASA has selected two proposals from Made in Space focused on producing advanced crystals and high-strength components for funding under the space agency’s Small Business Innovation Research program. Each two-year Phase II is worth up to $750,000.

The Industrial Crystallization Facility (ICF) would produce “nonlinear optical single crystals and other relatively large material formulations, such as bulk single-crystal thin films and high temperature optical fiber,” according to the proposal.

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A Look at NASA’s Deep Space Exploration Plans


Last month NASA officials gave a series of presentations about the space agency’s deep-space exploration plans to the NASA Advisory Council’s Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Committee. I have excerpted slides from those presentations to provide an overview of what the space agency is planning.
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