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First peek at what comes next for Bigelow Aerospace

Published by Rob on Fri Apr 20, 2007 1:13 pm
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(To see a size comparison between Galaxy, Genesis and the future complex modules planned by Bigelow Aerospace, click here.)

Bigelow Aerospace has kicked off development of the Galaxy advanced technology demonstration program, which is intended to be launch-ready in the fall of 2008.

Galaxy will bridge the evolutionary development between the Genesis-class vehicles and the vehicle to follow — our first human-inhabitable module, Sundancer. Galaxy’s primary purpose is to provide critical risk reduction, as well as first-flight experience for technologies being developed and intended to be flown on Sundancer and our operational fleet of standard-sized vehicles.

While we will leverage proven processes and technology learned in the development and flight of Genesis I and II, a number of technological advances will be implemented on Galaxy. These include:

Advanced onboard avionics: Features increased performance, reconfigurability, decentralized processing, superior redundancy capabilities and “plug and play” features to speed integration and testing while improving reliability.

Key elements of the Environmental Control Life Support System (ECLSS): While Galaxy will not need to support human passengers, it serves as an ideal test-bed to flight-qualify critical elements of our life- and crew-support systems in zero-gravity.

Upgraded attitude determination and control system: Our basic Genesis-class guidance, navigation and control system will be upgraded to provide greater torque-control authority and momentum management with precision attitude sensing.

Increased communications bandwidth: The addition of higher-speed communications bands for uplink and downlink will provide for more responsive commanding, as well as real-time video downlink capability for the first time. To support these enhancements, corresponding upgrades will be made to our ground stations in Nevada, Alaska, and Hawaii. We further anticipate additional ground stations will be in place in time to support Galaxy flight operations.

An improved, more robust air-barrier: Includes more damage-resistant properties. We will address human-factor considerations in selection of materials robust enough to support frequent and intensive onboard astronaut activities.

Power system improvements: To include larger and more efficient articulated solar arrays and high-performance battery technologies.

Structural upgrades: Mass and stiffness efficiency improvements will be made to the primary structure and soft-goods. These improvements will support scalability to our larger spacecraft. We will also incorporate the addition of an access hatch and an additional, larger window/viewing port.

Galaxy will also have a 45-percent larger usable volume than its Genesis precursors. We have chosen to optimize its stowed packaging to allow for the deployed dimensions shown below:

Length (m) 4.0
Diameter (m) 3.3
Usable Volume (m3) 16.7

Galaxy design work and prototyping will extend through 2007, and will be integrated through 2008 in order to support launch readiness in the fall of that year.

Feel free to discuss this further in the forum…

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