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Counterpoint from Vegas

Journalism Prizes

Congratulations to Leonard David for winning the 2nd Annual Space Journalism Award of $1,000 for best article on human spacefaring for January-September 2005 for his article, Space Tourism: Keeping the Customer Satisfied. I sponsored this and it was judged by Clark Lindsey, Jeff Foust and last year's winner, Eli Kintisch. I also sponsored a prize for Best Breaking News Reporting of $1,000 judged by the Space Frontier Foundation Board that went to Alan Boyle.


Nothing that Bigelow said or did was particularly surprising except that Bigelow Aerospace is now being an open company and lifting the covers off of a very interesting and ambitious program. Another surprise was that Bigelow himself led the three tours of his facility. He's in good shape with grey hair and a moustache. He wore a shirt that was colorful with patterns reminiscent of seismometer tracks. Bigelow opening up was like a quake that was building up for a long time. The Bigelow items at the Space Frontier Foundation Teacher's in Space auction went for high prices. One of five signed Bigelow posters went for more than tours of SpaceX and Rocketplane, and generous affinity packages from XCOR, Masten and Armadillo Aerospace.

One auction item of note is the right to name one of the scorpions going up on a Genesis or the next larger scale model, the Galaxy (perhaps a renamed Guardian at 45% scale). During the tour, Bigelow pointed out his life sciences area under construction where he will keep a control group of various animals that will mirror another set going up into space on future missions.

The Genesis is "1/3" scale, but that encompasses less than 1/27 of the volume of the Nautilus because of some components that do not scale well. The Guardian/Galaxy if it's 45% would have almost 10% of the volume of the full size BA-330 Nautilus. The ISS is only 425 cubic meters at this point and will only be triple that volume when "completed" (if ever). Five Bigelow habs could be four times the volume of the current ISS. With the floor and ceiling usable, and two bulkheads making three decks, a single 330 presents as much living "area" as a 5000 square foot house. Stringing them together would make a pretty nice lab and hotel complex. Bigelow's anticipated market of the rest of the countries of the world sending astronauts is intriguing and reminiscent of The Rocket Company by David Hoerr. He's not talking about industry any more after finding out how badly burned they were with their dealings with NASA.

On a positive note, Bigelow says he'll be starting an Astronaut corps in four years. When I asked him what people should do to get ready, e.g., study hard in school, he said "I'll have to think on that."


At Michael Mealling's business plan presentation, he said that a key differentiator for Masten for their later generations will be the ability to go to 500km with their tourist version. Another differentiator is that the pilot will be on the ground.

First to Suborbit

I heard from George French III (aka little George) who is son of Chairman George French, on the Board of Directors at Rocketplane Kistler and heading up Sales and Customer Relations that Rocketplane will delay their first revenue flight for XP past 2007. This leaves Armadillo with the earliest announced date for beginning of test flights for their tourist vehicle. At least four different vendors have told me they will or could be first and there are at least two fast followers that I am aware of. Some are still seeking funding. It should be pretty exciting when it all hits which may be 2007, but depending on how successfully development and testing go for Armadillo, it may hit in 2008, or if it goes slowly for a wider crowd, 2009.

Posted by Sam Dinkin at July 22, 2006 09:00 AM
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