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Bigelow Aerospace; Russian Dnepr rocket to launch a 1/3-scale Genesis model

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Sun Jun 4, 2006 6:29 pm
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Bigelow Aerospace will launch a 1/3-scale Genesis model of a commercial orbital space station on June 16 on a Russian Dnepr rocket. Inside the model there will be 1000 photocards and personal objects from Bigelow Aerospace employees all flooting inside the space station.

If this succeeds, we can expect an other Genesis module launch in September 2006.
This time you’ll have a chance to fly your own picture or item into space.

Your personal selection will be floating inside a spacecraft hundreds of miles above the Earth. If all systems function properly, your personal treasure (be it a photo, ring, bottle-cap or toy) will be floating in space for years.

And here is the best part: You might even be able to see it. The Bigelow Aerospace spacecraft known as Genesis II will be carrying multiple cameras. Some of these cameras will be viewing areas inside the spacecraft where your prized possession is floating. Everyday, Bigelow Aerospace will be downloading images and video from these cameras to its Website. If you log onto the Bigelow Aerospace Web portal, you will have a chance to actually see your item floating by! And who knows? If the Genesis II spacecraft stays in orbit for several years as we expect, you may see your face (or item) many times over!

A limited number of objects can be flown aboard the Genesis II this fall so let them know if you’re interested in reserving a slot now. You can reserve up to five opportunites to “Fly Your Stuff™.”.

About Bigelow Aerospace

Vision Statement:

    Near Term
    Develop Pathfinder demonstrator spacecraft that can validate spacecraft hardware and systems. Our near term vision for Bigelow Aerospace is to play a major role in drastically altering the current cost and availability surrounding commercial and public use of non-habitable and habitable space complexes.

Mission Objectives

    Primary Objectives
    Validate expandable structures as a certified spaceflight technology. Provide a low-cost, low earth orbit (LEO) human-rated space complex that is accessible to the commercial sector. Develop an affordable and flexible space complex architecture that can be adapted for any manned or unmanned mission requiring a large pressurized volume. Provide a ground-based infrastructure that the commercial and public entities sector can utilize for developing low-cost, space-based missions.

    Secondary Objectives
    Create new ways of generating revenue through the use of these demonstrators that lead to full-scale business development engaging the public in fun and interesting pilot revenue generating programs.

Company History and Some Philosophy

    Bigelow Aerospace founded in 1999 by Robert T. Bigelow has been working for several years on systems and methodologies that may prove significant to advance habitable structures in space. About 95% of the capital I (Robert T. Bigelow) have invested (almost $75,000,000 so far) has been during the period between November 2002 and April 2006. The pace of investment continues to increase as expected.

    The challenges are not so much technological (although those are great as well) as they are political and managerial. Without astute financial management, a $75,000,000 investment could easily be required to grow by an order of magnitude to satisfy the very same program goals, and probably would if the initiative were under government control. However, even the most diligent exercise of monetary and human management pales in comparison to politics as a serious threat.

    Without technological advancement you only maintain the status quo. Without sufficient money there is no technological advancement. Without adept, efficient management of money no amount unless seriously excessive is enough. Without a conducive, healthy regulatory environment you are probably either patently optimistic or delusional to continue (I’m not sure where I fit). However, I’m now in the exploration of space business and at this point in time America is having an identity crisis. America’s political passion for space is arguably indifferent and considering such laws as the ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations), the regulatory environment is somewhat less than appealing.

    Despite these challenges, we still manage to progress. Our plan for reducing the impact of technology failure is based upon the quantity of flights. Our intention is to fly often. We don’t have an abundance of time, and we are not so optimistic as to think everything will properly function as we migrate through various hardware iterations and spacecraft architectures leading to full-scale validation including automated rendezvous and docking. My testing philosophy is to test everything terrestrially first to failure. Then test through flight. I don’t think much of computer modeling as the final frontier for testing.

    Although our Company is small, we are blessed with a very talented, dedicated group of folks that have not been easy to find. These individuals carry that special feeling with them that make people like me cry with pride. They are the unsung heroes in our Company. I’m sure they’re the kind of people America had an abundance of during the Apollo era.

    Some of the Bigelow Aerospace staff.
    Some of the Bigelow Aerospace staff.

    Whether it’s our Washington office trying to desperately fight giant intractable government, our Houston plant working on vital systems and future architectures, or the North Las Vegas plant trying to put it all together, these people excite the new recruits coming aboard.

    One more thing: We would not have gotten this far without the help of many people including a few special friends that feel as we do and work for the Agency called NASA.

    Only memories and some ancient hardware are left of that once inspirational and glorious time in American space history, the time of Apollo. All of the king’s horses and all of the king’s men will not and can not reproduce those days. However, the American private sector in conjunction with partnerships and relationships foreign and domestic has a small chance over the next few years to start the creation of new space businesses, businesses that can actually survive economically in a globally competitive field (providing our government cooperates) that embraces public participation in a way that was originally expected after Apollo.

What is the Business of Bigelow Aerospace

    Simply put, I am adapting and engaging all of my terrestrial experience (35 years such as it is) in design, finance, development, general contracting, management, and sales, to the subject of possibly creating viable businesses in space that do not involve living off of phase I, II or III government grants, or making hardware that only the government is going to own and maybe intermittently use a relatively few number of times.

    I realized in 1998 that if terrestrial principles of real estate development and finance were applied to habitable space structures, all of the means of financing/mortgaging/leasing/selling/advertising/branding/sponsoring and franchising, etc. could be solved. A free system called capitalism works very well on Earth, and there is nothing about microgravity that changes this. We need to encourage creativity, imagination, and innovation, in order to bring the benefits of space development to fruition, not just for the privileged few, but for all of humanity.

    As a shopping center, office building, hotel or special purpose building developer, you must always supply all design, construction, financing, utility, maintenance, management, leasing, emergency and communications services including political, logistical and physical location infrastructure. Space is no different. Bigelow Aerospace is not in the hotel business. We are in the business of creating structures for other people to use as hotels, laboratories, factories, corporate yachts, adjunct colleges, medical clinics, astronaut training facilities, or imaginative environments for public entertainment, etc., etc… Our intent is not to burden the marketplace with purchase as the only method of obtaining use. In fact, Bigelow Aerospace is planning for the cost to be reduced through various methods of leasing thereby dramatically increasing the opportunity for users/customers of various financial capabilities.

    If Bigelow Aerospace is successful, we should be consuming a significant number of vehicles each year. But we have the schedule responsibility that dictates for us the necessity of predicting when the flights will occur. Therefore we may need to either participate in some form of ownership in these transportation systems or at the very least to broker them for our customers.

    It is possible that the primary use of space complexes has yet to be discovered. So much of our technological development has been a result of happenstance, brought about by simple trial and error. Our goal is to get humanity into space so we can experiment, toy with ideas, try new and different things, and eventually make that miraculous mistake leading to a discovery that will change life forever.

    In 2000, I announced our original goal of 2015 (and $500,000,000 later) as being the year we would have our first commercial space complex (CSC) in orbit. We might be ahead of schedule. The problem is transportation. We expect to fly two spacecraft this year in 2006 that we are referring to as Genesis I and Genesis II. By 2010, Bigelow Aerospace hopes to have flown 6-10 pathfinder/demonstrator spacecraft. By 2012, Bigelow Aerospace may be ready to fly its first full-scale habitable structure.

    With only two modules (BA 330’s) in orbit the flight rate demand in the third year of operation alone is 16 rockets the size of the Atlas V-401s or Falcon 9s to transport people and cargo. Perhaps, we will even use a foreign transportation system if a domestic alternative is not available or is too expensive. We just don’t know. I have recognized all along that we may be ready with a destination but must wait for the progress of affordable, available transportation to catch up.

    In any event, you have my word that myself, and all of us at Bigelow Aerospace, will do everything in our power to transform the dream of a robust human presence in space into a reality. I hope that the whole world will join us in this adventure.

    Robert T. Bigelow

Bigelow Aerospace America’s Space Prize


    Spacecraft to complete two missions with five crew members before january 2010
    Reward: US$ 50,000,000.

    Ten Primary Rules of the Competition
  • The Spacecraft must reach a minimum altitude of 400 km (approx. 250 miles);
  • The Spacecraft must reach a minimum velocity sufficient to complete two (2) full orbits at altitude before returning safely to Earth;
  • The Spacecraft must carry no less than a crew of five (5) people;
  • The Spacecraft must dock or demonstrate its ability to dock with a Bigelow Aerospace inflatable space habitat and be capable of remaining on station for at least six (6) months;
  • The Spacecraft must perform two (2) consecutive, safe and successful orbital missions within a period of sixty (60) calendar days, subject to Government regulations;
  • No more than twenty percent (20%) of the Spacecraft may be composed of expendable hardware (the term ‘Spacecraft’ encompasses the launch vehicle in its entirety, including but not limited to, any and all fuel tanks, external rockets, carrier craft, and boosters);
  • The contestant must be domiciled in the United States of America;
  • The Contestant must have its principal place of business in the United States of America;
  • The Competitor must not accept or utilize Government development funding related to this Contest of any kind, nor shall there be any Government ownership of the Competitor. Using Government test and launch facilities shall be permitted; and
  • The Spacecraft must complete two (2) missions safely and successfully, with all five (5) crew members aboard for the second qualifying flight before the competition’s deadline of January 10, 2010.

Fore more information visit the Bigelow Aerospace Website: http://www.bigelowaerospace.com

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