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Bigelow Aerospace News Update: Robert Bigelow at Space 2006 in San Jose

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Fri Sep 22, 2006 4:20 pm
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By Stephen Deisher, If the Genesis II spacecraft works out, Robert Bigelow hopes to have a brand new vehicle, called “Sundancer”, in orbit by May 1 2009, and no later than the second half of 2010. It will have a maximum launch mass of 19,000 pounds, designed to house 3 people, have a volume of 180 cubic meters, and have full ACS, orbital maneuvering, and (of course) ECLSS systems. It will be designed to stay on-orbit for an extended period of time.

After a minimum 6 month shakedown, he will be starting flights (first unmanned, and then manned) to the vehicle. In ‘08, he will be issuing conditional contracts for transportation to Sundancer, with 4 to 8 flights in the first year alone.

In ‘11 or ‘12, he plans to launch a BA 330 module and a propulsion/docking node; this would give the station a total volume of 510 cubic meters. At this point, he said the station would support a minimum launch rate of 16 launches per year. Tickets would be for a 3 week stay at $10M per. His statement near the end of his talk: “If you can create those seats, Bigelow Aerospace will buy them, and see to it that they get filled.” He also said that BA is looking for experienced astronauts along with engineering staff.

He also spoke of a new contract with Lockheed-Martin to human-rate the Atlas V. Lockheed will have a press conference on this at about 1pm local time; don’t know if I can get in.

He said suborbital tourism is “very valuable” from an “orbiting standpoint”, and congratulated the courage and foresight of people like Sir Richard Branson and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

He said that “predictability of launch schedules” is necessary to commercial spaceflight, and also stated that “America is definitely in a new space race.”

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