Thursday, September 21, 2006

Bigelow: Habitable Space Outpost by 2010


Space.com is reporting hotelier and space entrepreneur Robert Bigelow announced that based on the success of the Genesis 1 test module currently orbiting the Earth and transmitting reams of critical data for engineers, he will launch and operate Sundance, a habitable commercial space outpost capable of supporting three crew members, by 2010.

The station will operate in low earth orbit, but be maneuverable and sustainable for a decade or more. It will also have de-orbit capability.

This module will be a scale model of the larger station he plans to launch in 2012. Right now Bigelow is launching the inflatable space stations on Dnepr rockets. In the future he plans to use the low-cost launch system of Falcon rockets being designed by SpaceX, which is owned by upstart commercial space investor, Elon Musk.

So far, however, the Falcon rockets have been unable to get off the ground. A stark contrast to the incredible success of the Genesis-1 station, but not beyond the expectations of Musk, who recently received nearly $300 million from NASA to demonstrate the capability of getting seven people to and from the International Space Station by 2010.

Whether Falcon gets off the ground or not, Bigelow said he plans to launch Sundance in 2008.

He's just that determined...

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