Bigelow Aerospace announced Tuesday the creation of Bigelow Space Operations (BSO), the next step in the company's effort to build the world's first habitable private space station. Bigelow could potentially play a role in the upkeep and management of the station, or provide expandable platforms for a new station.
Bigelow Aerospace is on track to launch its first two B330 modules in 2021, Bigelow said.
BSO said that the modules are single structures that can host humans on a permanent basis and will be the most complex and largest ever human-use space stations.
This structure would be similar to the International Space Station, except it would orbit the Moon instead of the Earth. Such a product would weigh between 165,000 to 176,000 pounds on launch, Bigelow said.
"They're offering very attractive terms and conditions and features that the commercial sector will have a terrible time trying to compete with", Bigelow said. BSO envisages a single rocket will take an entire station into space, followed by a crew who will expand the fabric into a functional habitat.
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A fabric shell might sound flimsy, but the technology could actually fare better against micrometeoroid space junk than the ISS's metal walls, Fox News reports. These stations could orbit Earth or the moon, and they could even be set up on the lunar surface, Bigelow has said.
"We intend to spend millions this year drilling down to a conclusion one way or another, what will the global market look like?"
"It's one thing I call upon the Trump administration to become involved in", Bigelow said. "But the national markets are very important and we hope to place their payloads in low earth orbit". "This subject has had ambiguity for many years". At the time, Bigelow said his company was building two B330s.
Last week Bigelow said he "applauds" the Trump administration's "focus on commercial partnerships for low-Earth orbit" after it announced plans on February 12 to end NASA's funding of the International Space Station in 2025 and begin a new $150 million program to build commercial platforms in orbit. Scientific research and manufacturing that take advantage of microgravity, earth and space observation, and tourism are all mooted as profitable orbital business models, but the entrepreneur suggested today to reporters that they wouldn't suffice. Bigelow's space firm has also worked on behalf of the United States military's mysterious UFO investigation effort.
"They will be ready for launch in 2021", Bigelow said. "We really are available to discuss this topic with the administration and expose the problem that we see exists not only from a commercial standpoint, but a political standpoint", he said. Now, the company is working on its new space station design named the B330. But before then, possibly by the end of the year, Bigelow will release the results of his commercial space study. "We will indicate if the news is bad, mediocre, or great", Bigelow said.