Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Inflatables in Space; Bigelow Aerospace Tests Genesis I

While NASA astronauts played with various types of icky black goo in an attempt to prepare themselves for future in-space repairs, a private space design firm seeking to be the first to offer commercial space habitats successfully launched and inserted its prototype Genesis I inflatable spacecraft into Earth orbit today.
Bigelow Aerospace engineers have already begun receiving telemetry data from the craft, orbiting some 550 km above the Earth. Launched atop a Russian ISC Kosmotras Dnepr rocket, the craft deployed solar arrays and began sending data back to mission control without a hitch.

Bigelow said it will launch at least two more test spacecraft before trying a full-size version sometime in the next couple years. All of this will take place as contestants in America's Space Prize work hard to design and build a spacecraft to service the inflatable habitats and win the $50 million prize.
America's Space Prize was modeled after the Ansari X-Prize which saw the development of the wildly innovative and successful, SpaceShipOne only after offering a $10 million prize. Millionaire developer and hotelier Robert Bigelow, owner of Bigelow Aerospace, is offering the larger prize in hopes of finding a solution to getting people to and from his orbiting platforms...

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