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Bigelow technology

Posted by: Rob Goldsmith - Sun Jan 23, 2005 7:34 pm
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Bigelow technology 
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Post    Posted on: Fri Feb 18, 2005 1:58 pm
I doubt Branson would ever offer a prize as such - he's too much focused on making money out of it.

However, if Virgin Galactic does work out, I could well imagine them being the group which provides the services to Bigelow's Hotel (ie, the on-the ground training, the pilots if a spaceplane is used, ect).

Just imagine a Virgin Galactic, Bigelow Aerospace, SpaceX and Scaled Composites alliance to make an orbital hotel work. Wouldn't that be something :P

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Post    Posted on: Fri Feb 18, 2005 2:19 pm
I am thinking of Branson because he could have the same reasons as Bigelow is said to have: Bigelow has set the ASP to stimulate the construction of vehicles that can serve his inflatables - Branson may set a lunar prize to stimulate the construction of vehicles that can carry his customers to the moon.

Branson may have the idea that a person who has enjoyed a suborbital trip may desire to go to the moon next and thus may feel dissatisfied by another suborbital trip. Branson may want to keep all his suborbital customers by offering lunar trips. The termination of one low lunar orbit requires much less than 90 minutes and so he might want to offer more than the trip and requires a hotel. And this hotel may be provided by Bigelow.

My post answered by Andy Hill has been misunderstandable a little bit. When I wrote that post I didn't consider the possibility to dock engines to an inflatable as turning the inflatable into a vehicle. I posted under another aspect. Bigelow may want to be independant from NASA for carrying his inflatables to the moon - and he may want to avoid the requirement of special space lorries to carry them. So he may have provided the possibility to dock engines for being able to install his space hotels in a lunar orbit or at the lunar surface without the assistance of NASA.

As far as I know the full-scale inflatables will be big compared to lunar manned vehicles. Their personal capacity is larger than that of those vehicles. So it may take longer and may be more costly to do a trip by the inflatable than to install it at the moon and to provide traffic between Earth and moon - and this traffic could be done by a traffic line called Virgin Galactic.

Seen from this perspective Bigelow and Branson perhaps will join to set a lunar prize because they both would want the private development and construction of private lunar vehicles...

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Post    Posted on: Fri Feb 18, 2005 3:03 pm
Branson is a service provider not creater, he has taken advantage of todays technology through Scaled to start sub-orbital flights he has not invested in developement (like Paul Allen) to create something new.

Sure there is risk attached to the business but from the amount of people signed up and the publicity he is starting to get the risk seems to be working out. I'm sure he was fairly confident that there was a market there to exploit in the first place, I'm not sure there is as large a market for lunar trips given the extra expense and harder technical challenges it represents. Possibly once sub-orbital is established everyone will start to push the boundaries further out.

He would only start Moon tours if the technology and infrastructure was in place, he would not force the market as Bigelow is doing for the ASP. All the infrastructure for Branson's sub-orbital flight is on Earth, once enough gets in space then he will probably extend virgin galactic activities to include lunar trips but until then he will concentrate on growing and improving his sub-orbital business.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Feb 18, 2005 5:08 pm
I don’t see much talk of orbital tourism, everyone is jumping from suborbital straight to lunar. Bigelow is planning for orbital operations (he is careful not to hype the tourism part too much, yet), but he has no good way to get to orbit yet. He is counting on others to do that for him, hence the prize.
After we have real orbital tourism, then it should be a comparatively small step to lunar orbit tourism But experience getting tourists to LEO cheaply and keeping them safe and happy for a week at a time (depositing bodily waste into a little plastic bag in zero G will not keep me happy) is needed before going lunar.


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Post    Posted on: Fri Feb 18, 2005 5:20 pm
Yes you're right orbital tourism will come before Lunar trips but as you say there is only a reletively small step between the two so they might even evolve together, who knows for sure what will happen.

Sub-orbital will test the technology and create a perception that the whole industry is viable if its successful. At that point a lot more investment should come into the industry from sources that weren't prepared to take the high risks associated with it at the start.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Feb 18, 2005 7:30 pm
I would disagree with the fact that there is little interest in orbital statement very much. The whole push of what companies like Bigelow Aerospace and SpaceX are doing now is based upon orbital tourism. If you read the Bigelow website, that is abundantly clear, and Bigelow makes no secret of the fact he intends to offer orbital holidays for $7.9 million per person per week.

I would say the main reason that there is not as many announcements about it as you might think, is that it is now a possible reality, so is not so fun for the dreams anymore, while the companies who are actually doing something about it are all concentrating hard on getting the job done, and not leaking their plans to the world.

As for it being easier to go from orbit to the moon, than from sub-orbit to orbit, that is definitely true. It takes about 35 times more energy to go into orbit than to do a quick jaunt like SpaceShipOne did, while it only takes 4 times more than orbit to go to the moon.

However, considering that for space flight you pay per lb, 4 times greater cost is still a lot. Paying $7.9 million sounds a lot more reasonable than $23.6 million.

In the end, I think it all boils down to the fact that it will happen if the money is there. Personally, I'm quite optimistic.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Feb 18, 2005 8:09 pm
I think that there is interest enough in orbital trips it is just not going to happen for a while, hopefully 5 years or sooner if someone can win the ASP. I agree that is really what everyone wants but things dont appear to be moving very fast but then again we've only just had Space Ship One so we shouldn't be to impatient.

The next year or so will see things starting to move with possibly a couple of other teams making sub-orbital flights, SpaceX getting Falcon V working and Bigelow orbiting his Genesis inflatable. Things should start to get interesting then with more backers coming forward anxious not to miss an opportunity.

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Post    Posted on: Sat Feb 19, 2005 2:01 pm
Andy Hill wrote:
I think that there is interest enough in orbital trips it is just not going to happen for a while, hopefully 5 years or sooner if someone can win the ASP. I agree that is really what everyone wants but things dont appear to be moving very fast but then again we've only just had Space Ship One so we shouldn't be to impatient.


Keep in mind the X Prize took 10 years to win - Rutan made his initial SpaceShipOne sketch in 1996 also (although actual development only took 3 years). I would differ, things are going very fast.

If the ASP can be won before 2010, that means 6 years between the first sub-orbital flight and the first orbital flight - that's pretty quick in my opinion.

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Post    Posted on: Sat Feb 19, 2005 2:08 pm
It can never be quick enough though can it? :)

I think the thing to bear in mind is that the X-prize more or less started from scratch whereas the ASP already has the teams formed and some of the existing X vehicles might be able to be scaled up to make orbital flights.

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Post    Posted on: Sat Feb 19, 2005 3:09 pm
yeah can someone tell me the time gap between sub-orbital and orbital with nasa? also is anyone here prepared to take a guess of events for the next few years? could this year be more important than last?

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Post    Posted on: Sat Feb 19, 2005 5:05 pm
Alan Shepherd was the first American in space (suborbital), on the 5th of May 1961.
John Glenn was then the first American to orbit the Earth, on the 20th of Feb 1962.

These numbers aren't really comparable, since the sub-orbital flight was merely a tester for the capsule - it had been designed to go into orbit from the very beginning. The capsules which Shepherd and Glenn used were identical, there was no re-design needed. The only change was to put a slighty bigger rocket underneath them. By using a capsule design, they had already got the hardest parts of orbital spaceflight completed - the engine design, and the re-entry and life support systems for the capsule. All they did then was slap on a couple of extra engines and a bigger fuel tank, and presto, you have orbit.

The other thing is that Shepherd's sub-orbital flight, despite being the first, was a much bigger sub-orbital flight than SS1, he actually remained in orbit for 5 times as long, and achieved many times (probably again about 4-5 times) the velocity that SS1 achieved. It was merely a stepping stone.

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Post    Posted on: Mon Feb 21, 2005 1:20 pm
Sev wrote:
The other thing is that Shepherd's sub-orbital flight, despite being the first, was a much bigger sub-orbital flight than SS1, he actually remained in orbit for 5 times as long, and achieved many times (probably again about 4-5 times) the velocity that SS1 achieved. It was merely a stepping stone.


And also hit an inordinately high G number on the way out and back in -- something like 7 or 11, I think (not sure). Which Rutan very carefully and explicitly avoided.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Mar 08, 2005 11:38 pm
It seems like SpaceX has lost Bigelow as a customer for their Falcon V rocket next year, he will launch Genesis on a Dnepr booster instead. I guess the delays in the Falcon program are starting to hurt SpaceX and some of their customers are going to desert. Bigelow seems to be keeping to his schedule for his inflatable stations though.

http://space.com/missionlaunches/050308 ... pdate.html

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Post    Posted on: Wed Mar 09, 2005 5:03 pm
Bigelow had always intended two launches of his pathfinder modules - one on a Dnepr rocket, one on a Falcon V. As far as I can tell, all that has changed is the order of the launches. The Falcon was meant to be the first, now it will be the Dnepr.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Mar 09, 2005 10:49 pm
My understanding of the situation is that the first launch was on the Falcon because it was the lightest of the planed 3 launches by Bigelow and the only one that Falcon could carry. With the Genesis inflatable now being launched on a Dnepr booster and the others to heavy for Falcon V, SpaceX has effectively lost a customer.

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