Orbital Reef, the in-progress private space station headed by Blue Origin and Sierra Space, is coming to the big screen. The companies announced today that the space station will be featured in a forthcoming film, HELIOS, in a deal with production company Centerboro Productions.
The film, which will be set in 2030, will be the story of a spaceship dubbed HELIOS and its crew. Orbital Reef will appear throughout the movie as “the latest-generation space station used as a critical resource by the HELIOS crew,” the companies said in a statement.
Shooting for the film is expected to take place in 2023, and the companies behind Orbital Reef won’t launch the first modules for the station until 2027 or so, so this is firmly a terrestrial project. At least for now: Hollywood is an interesting use-case for private space stations, particularly before they launch -- and presumably, before they start generating in-orbit revenues. This is especially important as no company has yet announced how much the design, construction, launch and assembly of their private space station is expected to cost. But rest assured, it will likely be in the order of at least hundreds of millions of dollars.
Blue Origin, Sierra Space and third partner Boeing announced plans for the space station last October. The "off-world mixed use business park," as Blue Origin’s senior VP of advanced development program, Brent Sherwood described the station, includes tech from Redwire Space, Genesis Engineering and Arizona State University. Last month, the two companies announced that the station passed a key design review with NASA, paving the way for further development to take place.
It is far from the only private space station in development. As we near the planned retirement of the International Space Station by the end of the decade, both private industry and NASA are looking to fill the gap via commercial markets. Axiom Space has its own station project in the works, and a separate station is also being planned by a team including Voyager Space, Nanoracks and Lockheed Martin.
NASA awarded over $400 million in contracts to three teams -- those led by Nanoracks, Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman (which is working with contractor Dynetics) -- to further develop their private space stations. The awards were granted under the agency’s Commercial low Earth orbit Destinations program.