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Posted 13 July 2011 - 17:14
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Posted 07 November 2011 - 17:37
Thanks for your interest in Bigelow Aerospace (BA). You asked about a very broad range of topics that would take many pages to respond to all, but maybe I'll just start with our near term plans. BA is a very hardware oriented company that puts a lot of value in testing as opposed to analysis, so most of the objectives you see below are hardware/test centered.
With a few months left in 2011, we are currently working on several important projects to dramatically increase the maturity of the BA330 design. The first and biggest is beginning the qualification of the BA 330 restraint layer (the strength behind the Bigelow Expandable Pressure Vessels.) Bigelow Aerospace has designed and developed restraint layers for several sizes of Expandable Vehicles including Genesis, Galaxy, and Sundancer, but BA 330 will be the biggest so far. The designs are completed and we are in the process of fabricating the first of the BA 330 size restraint layers now. Our plans have it completed and ready for destructive testing by the end of the year. This will be a big and exciting milestone for us as the largest expandable structure we have designed and fabricated to date (we have built several Sundancer size restraint layers and currently have one in leak test that was started about 3 years ago at 12 psi.) The plan is to pressurize this unit to failure late this year, or early next, to learn about this specific design’s structural margins and evaluate our fabrication methods. Bigelow Aerospace has always had an in internal design philosophy to maintain very large structural margins giving us industry leading factors of safety.
Bigelow is also heavily engaged in working with our full scale BA 330 ECLSS (Environmental Control and Life Support System) chamber. This involves long and short term testing in a sealed volume with either human or human simulators in the loop to produce the ECLSS load. We have performed several tests to date where we have had multiple people occupy the sealed chamber from several hours to days at time to test these systems. Long duration and characterization testing will continue into the new year using this facility.
The last major area we are currently concentrating on is our Avionics “Flat Sat.” We are constructing what will eventually become a very high fidelity, even up to flight quality, set of hardware that will function everything electronic on the spacecraft (ie: GNC, ECLSS, Power Generation, Communication, etc) but laid out on benches. This makes these complex systems easier to work on and evaluate before integration into a flight structure. We are currently in the first phases of this plan with a basic network of flight representative computers and communication equipment installed and operating. We plan to continually upgrade the fidelity of the hardware and software and test continuously until we have all full flight quality systems for the spacecraft installed and fully tested on the bench. This “build a little, test a little” philosophy is a standard practice at Bigelow Aerospace.
There are also several outside projects we are working on, including contract work for Boeing on CCDev2, but I can’t get into too much of that because of the proprietary nature of some of these relationships.
Thanks for the interest and hope this sparks some discussion.
Posted 09 November 2011 - 13:17
Posted 06 April 2012 - 22:45
"[Robert Bigelow] has been a great partner and provided us a lot of value," Mulholland said. "They are about to sign a contract with the International Space Station to put an inflatable module up there. Getting that NASA seal of approval will really help stimulate the market."
Posted 16 April 2012 - 12:37
Posted 16 April 2012 - 18:03
Posted 07 January 2013 - 21:48
New NASA, Bigelow Deal Puts Inflatable Space Station Module One Step Closer to Orbit
NASA and Bigelow Aerospace have reached an agreement that could pave the way for attaching a Bigelow-built inflatable space habitat to the international space station.