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.