Bigelow’s plans leak out

On Tuesday Robert Bigelow plans to hold a press conference in Colorado Springs at the National Space Symposium to release more details about his business plan. Craig Covault of Aviation Week has already been briefed about those plans and provides some details in an article published online late Friday. The article discusses a step-by-step plan for developing his orbital habitats, starting with Genesis 1 (launched last year) and Genesis 2 (scheduled for launch later this month), followed by larger modules: Galaxy in late 2008, Sundancer in 2010, and then the full-sized BA 330 modules in 2012 and 2013. By 2015 Bigelow envisions having three outposts composed of multiple BA 330 modules in orbit.

What about getting to and from the space stations? Bigelow said his company would contract for flight services with various transportation providers, agreeing to buy a certain number of flights per quarter or year. In his first full year of operations, he anticipates requiring 12-14 flights, increasing to three flights a month by 2016. Bigelow would buy from a number of companies, including COTS companies SpaceX and Rocketplane (which announced its letter of intent with Bigelow at the Space Access conference last month), and even Soyuz and Shenzhou flights from Russia and China, respectively.

What will the modules be used for? Bigelow said they would be able to support “a variety of functions or variety of uses”, but he explicitly said he doesn’t consider his stations “space hotels”. “We have been identified as the space hotel folks and that’s not the case — that really never has been the case.” As for what exactly he has in mind, we’ll have to wait until Tuesday—or maybe even later.

4 comments to Bigelow’s plans leak out

  • Bigelow denies being a space hotel, but who will rent out his station? If it’s private citizens going on holiday, it’s a hotel. What other demand is there?

  • Jeff Foust

    Sam: Bigelow has previously claimed (including in an interview with me last July) that he sees a big market in serving foreign space agencies, countries that might be interested in renting a space space station for a time, flying its own astronauts there, and carrying out experiments (or simply flying the flag, so to speak.) In July he told me that he estimated there were 60-70 countries that could be potential customers for such services. How realistic that is remains to be seen, but presumably he’s done his homework.

  • Chance

    60-70 countries with 5-7000 proffessional astronauts? If we take this statement at face value, and furthermore assume it is pretty close to correct (even half those numbers would be impressive), then there are going to be some very intersting socio-polictical implications. Will little countries rent out modules ajacent to modules of hostile big countries to score political points?? Will there be industrial espionage? What legal jurisdictions will there be? How will customs (as in customs and borders) policy be affected? We’re looking at a real wild west up there in the near future if we aren’t careful.

  • [...] Bigelow Aerospace announced details about its business plan. Some of those details were released in the earlier Aviation Week article, although company founder Robert Bigelow issued for the first time some pricing information: a [...]

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