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The First Space Hotel

Bigelow announced at lunch that he will be putting up a three-person space station in late 2009 or early 2010, about fifty percent bigger than an ISS module. He is putting up a destination in hopes that the transportation will come along (and in order to spur the transportation providers). Station will last for several years. Will be executing contracts in 2008 for transportation contracts to Sundancer. Expects between four and eight trips (people and cargo) per year, after six-month shakedown. Then trips will commence whenever transportation becomes available. 2012 will see the launch of another module providing 500 cubic meters of habitable volume. Will support sixteen launches a year for full utilization (again, cargo and people). Minimum three-week stay, but market limited at ten million, so wants to establish private astronaut program for other nations (this is not news). Make sixty instead of eleven countries with an astronaut corps. Could represent on the order of a billion a year in revenue. Launch estimates from fifty to a hundred million per flight. About time to take human spaceflight from the exclusive domain of governments. Will be changing that in the next half decade.

He also announced that he and Lockmart have a joint agreement to study what it will take to human rate the Atlas V for commercial passenger transport.

A press conference is about to start at which he will have more details and take questions. I'll try to live blog it, despite my lack of mouse.

[Update at start of conference]

Conference with Bob Bigelow and George Sowers from Lockheed Martin. Bigelow saying that he's happy to simply take questions. Dr. Sowers saying that they're pleased to be working with a pragmatic visionary like Bob Bigelow to get the human spaceflight industry started. Handing a model of the Atlas V with the Begelow payload on top. Two-stage, one engine per stage, most reliable Atlas ever built.

Bigelow saying that he's been looking at the Atlas for a while, and impressed with the family track record. Has a lot of faith in the people of Lockheed.

In response to question from David Livinston, this will be handled by ULA if ULA happens, won't be outside.

Warren Ferster asks if Bigelow will continue to self finance. He says yes, and he's looking for another job (joke). Has sufficient funds to go through 2010-2012, but wants to start to establish relationships with other companies, because he expects it to be huge. Will be looking for joint venture opportunities.

Each organization will handle its own contribution to feasibility studies, but Sowers says that Atlas V human rating is not a new subject. They have a lot of info to bring to bear.

In response to a question from me, expects to use NASA standards for human rating absent a large document from the FAA.

TBD situation as to who will build crew module. Bigelow is providing destination, and focusing their resources on that. Have had conversation with various people. Bigelow can't say what cost situation will be, but thinks it's between three and twenty millions.

Sowers won't directly answer my question as to whether or not Lockheed Martin is considering a variant of Orion as a crew module. Says that discussions have taken place, and that there are options, and the focus of this announcement is on the launch vehicle and destination.

Not considering any launch site other than the Cape currently.

In response to question from me, says that they currently plan to be at forty degrees inclination for "early out" options in the US (didn't quite understand this comment from Bob--didn't seem to be ascent abort, but rather some kind of "early" return from orbit).

Definitely don't want to discuss cost (particularly with respect to the module).

Wired reporter asking how many people. First module is three, second is five, for a total of nine. Want to reduce costs initially as low as possible to spawn industry and create demand. Will be aggressive with low lease cost (Bigelow).

Sundancer will be as close to forty as possible (response to Warren Ferster). Won't know specifically until they know launch provider and location. Will be able to change altitude to accommodate launch provider. BA-330 is name for the second module.

Considering EM tether and other methods for maneuvering in response to question from me. Can't specify electric power level yet.

Conference over.

Thoughts and analysis later.

[A couple minutes later]

I think that this has upstaged the major Orion discussion at the plenary this morning. I haven't been to an AIAA conference in a while, but this is the first one that I've been to that had some of the feel of a NewSpace conference.

[Update a little while later]

Apparently had the story earlier (I've been too busy reporting to know what's going on, though I was hearing rumors in the morning). Also, there was some speculation in comments in my previous post. Clark Lindsey has thoughts. as does Jon Goff, even if I don't have time to gather mine right now.

Shutting down the computer now. Back later, probably tonight, after the conference is over. Be nice in the comments section.


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» Space News! from Tai-Chi Policy

A company named Up! Aerospace will be launching a rocket to sub-orbital heights on Monday. It will be the inaugural launch from Spaceport America in Upham New Mexico. Also, Bigelow is teaming up with Lockheed to launch a useable space station in probab... Read More

» Well...That Was Unexpected... from MarsBlog -- News and Commentary on Space

Three weeks ago Lockheed Martin was being slagged as a poor choice for Orion, incompetent, a dinosaur, the enemy of, etc. And now? LM is, itself: Initially, and due to the huge amount of money involved, the companies... Read More

» Low Key, but High Hopes from Rocket Jones

I haven't seen much buzz about this, but did you realize that Bigelow Aerospace is on the way to establishing a privately funded manned space station by 2010? Two years after that, expansion will allow for nine space tourists at... Read More

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on September 21, 2006 1:54 PM.

Conference Reporting was the previous entry in this blog.

Anti-Krugman 2:Single Horrible Payor is the next entry in this blog.

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