Bigelow Aerospace updates: thread 2


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Bigelow Aerospace of the expandable / inflatable space habitat tech that could result in space stations 3x the volume of ISS at a tiny fraction of the cost - and safer.

Major news coming, so new thread time.

Bigelow Aerospace thread 1....


Reminder: Bigelow Aerospace has existing joint agreements with Boeing (CST-100 spacecraft testbed), NASA (BEAM ISS habitat test), Lockheed Martin and SpaceX (both for habitat launch services.)

My guess is this will include a subscale Bigelow lunar habitat.

Business deals don?t get much bigger than this one. Have you ever read a contract that gives a governmental green light to a program to ?place a base on the surface of the moon?? Ever see an agreement signed by the U.S. government that declares a specific goal ?to extend and sustain human activities across the solar system?? Me, either.

Yet that is essence of an adventurous deal already reached between NASA and Las Vegas space entrepreneur Robert Bigelow. An official announcement is still a few days away and will likely happen during a news conference at NASA headquarters. In the meantime, I have a draft copy of what could be an historic contract, one that reads like a Kubrick screenplay or an Arthur C. Clarke story. It is flat-out otherworldly.

Bigelow made his fortune building apartment buildings and weekly-rental hotel rooms in Las Vegas. In 1999, he launched what must have seemed a pipe dream at the time ? his own private space program. But within a few short years he stunned the aerospace world by launching two of his own locally built spacecraft, both of which still circle the Earth (and one of which contains my weightless, floating business card). The focus of Bigelow Aerospace is an expandable module, small and light enough to make for less expensive launches but so strong and durable when expanded to full size that it accomplishes what NASA has been unable to do on its own: It puts more space in space, that is, more room for companies and governments to work, live and conduct research.

Back in January, NASA bigwigs came to Bigelow?s main plant to announce a landmark deal that calls for one of Bigelow?s modules to be attached to the International Space Station (ISS) within two years. Bigelow used that occasion to let slip some even bigger news ? the fact that he is spending $250 million of his own money to build a private space station, larger than the ISS, and that he plans to have it in low-Earth orbit by 2016. What few knew at the time was that he was secretly negotiating an even bigger deal with NASA, one that represents a fundamental, across-the-board change in our approach to space.

NASA has been coasting for a long time, kept alive by the now-distant memory of the moon landings and less spectacular but more important missions such as the Hubble and unmanned probes to Mars and beyond. Basically, NASA has become a job-protection racket, spending public dollars on programs and ideas that always seem to get cancelled. For instance, we spent tens of billions on the ISS but no longer have a way to get there.

The long-term answer has been well-known to NASA and the private space industry for a long time: Figure out how NASA can get out of the way and help private companies take the next step by commercializing space. Make it profitable for Americans to be up there, doing things that will ultimately benefit Earth. Few individuals in the aerospace world have been more critical of NASA than Bigelow, which makes the pending agreement all the more remarkable.

In a nutshell, NASA has decided that the best way to get Americans and American companies back into space is for the government to partner with private enterprise. To provide technical expertise and legal authority for bright, ambitious entrepreneurs to spend their own money on endeavors that will not only re-establish American supremacy in space but also get started on truly exciting long-range projects, including private space stations, as well as permanent bases on the moon, on Mars and beyond.

NASA has picked Bigelow Aerospace to be a linchpin of this new strategy. The agreement will formalize a series of strategic goals and timetables for the next Space Race. Bigelow?s company would become a clearinghouse of sorts. Its first assignment: to identify which other companies would be most valuable for NASA?s long-range goals, including permanent bases on other celestial bodies, the exploration of the most distant parts of our solar system, and commercial projects that could stimulate the U.S. economy. This is a marriage of American know-how, practical business goals and good, old-fashioned adventure.

Bigelow told me about some of the details in a radio interview a few days ago, but he is saving most of the specifics until NASA makes a formal announcement. From what I have seen, though, it is not hard to imagine our little desert community becoming the heart and soul of a wonderful new initiative that could inspire a new generation of explorers and pioneers who literally will go where no human has gone before.

Bigelow's full size lunar base concept


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The article itself is kinda negative in tone and also outdated, as we have several ways to get to ISS now. But the contract signed is amazing. Just reading that stuff gives me the Goosebumps. The timeline holds. People on the moon and Mars by mid 2020s.

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This isn't about getting to ISS. The speculation is Bigelow would coordinate for NASA beyond Earth orbit architectures using their habs. There are rumors of a Space Act Agreement being announced April 17th or 18th. We'll see then.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...



WASHINGTON -- NASA and Bigelow Aerospace of Las Vegas are holding a media availability at 1:30 p.m. EDT, Thursday, May 23, to discuss the agency's Space Act Agreement with the company for its insight on collaborating with commercial industry on exploration beyond Earth orbit. Journalists can participate in-person or by teleconference.

The media availability participants are:

-- William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator, human exploration

and operations, NASA

-- Robert Bigelow, founder and president, Bigelow Aerospace

Journalist who want to attend in-person at NASA Headquarters, 300 E St. SW in Washington, or dial-in to ask questions should contact

Rachel Kraft at or 202-358-1100 by 11 a.m.

May 23.

Under the agreement, Bigelow will work with a variety of commercial space companies to assess and develop options for innovative and dynamic private and public investments to create infrastructure to support domestic and international governmental exploration activities alongside revenue generating private sector enterprises. Bigelow will deliver its analysis by the end of this year.

The agreement includes a two-phased approach that will help NASA

assess potential opportunities for collaboration. During the first

phase, Bigelow will leverage its existing relationships with other

private companies and its expertise from continuing operations in

space to form common objectives between the private sector and NASA. In the second phase, Bigelow will create a series of options for public-private collaboration that lower costs and takes advantage of rapid implementation.

For more information on Bigelow Aerospace, visit:

For more information on NASA's exploration goals, visit:


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Regarding the Bigelow / NASA report Crisp said in the closed thread -

Well I'd rather see a Moon base over another orbiting station. It would be a great start to experiment on living on another planetary surface.


Actually two new bases would be extremelt useful -

1) a lunar base for further exploration (Apollo's coverage was to a narrow band of latitudes), exploitation (Helium 3 for fusion fuel, water at the poles for fuel and consumption during BEO missions), etc. and,

2) an "Exploration Gateway" at a Lagrange point like L1 or L2**, from which we could mount lunar sorties, Mars missions and missions to other beyond Earth orbit (BEO) destinations using minimal amounts of propulsion.

** L1 & L2 are gravitational stability points on either side of the Moon and in line with Earth where spacecraft can orbit a point in empty space. Great for space telescopes, gateways, assembling deep space missions etc. In Star Trek a location perfect for a "space dock."

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More -

The outlined plans submitted to NASA at their request would involve NASA, Bigelow, SpaceX, Lockheed, Boeing, Sierra Nevada etc., and both the BA-330 and the massive BA-2100 (2x the habitable volume as the ISS) are proposed.

Bigelow will build scaled versions of their habs for evaluating their use as landed bases, with testing to be done in a salt flats starting within the next 1-2 years. This would include the development of deployable floors.

Bigelow habitat landing patent....

Base proposal -


NASA, Bigelow, Assess Private Interest In Deep-Space Human Exploration

HOUSTON ? Bigelow Aerospace has raced through the initial phase of a first-of-its-kind Space Act Agreement (SAA) intended to provide NASA with new insight into private sector capabilities and motivations for expanding human space activities beyond Earth orbit, including the lunar realm.

Signed at the end of March, the two-phase exercise should be complete by early November and provide NASA with a range of potential options for folding U.S. and foreign companies into a broad, NASA-led development strategy to carry out the asteroid-retrieval mission outlined in the agency?s $17.7 billion 2014 budget proposal, and eventually send explorers to Mars, according to William Gerstenmaier, NASA?s associate administrator for human exploration and operations.

Robert Bigelow, the Las Vegas-based company?s co-founder and president, said during a May 23 teleconference with Gerstenmaier that 20 firms, some from sectors as remote from traditional aerospace as agriculture and pharmaceuticals, expressed interest. Some have names as familiar as Boeing Co. and SpaceX. Others represent Middle Eastern and Japanese concerns that seek greater access to low Earth orbit for research and possible manufacturing activities.

The completed ?Gate 1,? or first phase, report should be ready for public release within several weeks.

?This gives us a chance to kind of step back and do a bigger view of our planning and not do it in our own little stove pipes,? Gerstenmaier told the teleconference hosted by Bigelow Aerospace. ?We are actually reaching out as we start to formulate our thinking.?

NASA?s latest deep-space vision would robotically retrieve a small asteroid and place it in a stable lunar orbit by 2021, potentially in time for the first piloted test flight of the agency?s new Space Launch System and Orion crew vehicle to visit with astronauts.

Bigelow?s own interests include the launching of a commercial space station, possibly in 2016, based on the inflatable module development work that NASA carried out in the late 1990s. In December, the company was awarded a $17.8 billion NASA contract to test a prototype module on the International Space Station, a step in Bigelow?s longer-term goal of establishing a lunar base with inflatable habitats.

?The theme of [Gate 1] was to acquire as much information as possible on what the private sector is already doing,? Bigelow said. ?If they are already investing their own capital and efforts in certain areas of hardware and missions, isn?t there an opportunity in there for NASA to benefit so that NASA does not have to pay the perpetual heavy burden of research and development costs??

The SAA is an indication that NASA is prepared to broaden its perspective on private sector capabilities in areas as fundamental as transportation and life support systems, Gerstenmaier said.

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  • 5 months later...

Whatever they've been discussing after the above post it appears they're ready to talk about it -

Nov. 6, 2013

Rachel Kraft

Headquarters, Washington


Mike Gold

Bigelow Aerospace



NASA, Bigelow Aerospace to Hold Media Availability

Representatives of NASA and Bigelow Aerospace will discuss the North Las Vegas, Nev., company's completed and upcoming projects for the agency in a media availability Tuesday, Nov. 12, in Washington.

William Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for human exploration and operations, and Robert Bigelow, founder and president of Bigelow Aerospace, will meet members of the news media at 2:30 p.m. EST at the Phoenix Park Hotel, 520 N. Capitol St. NW.

Under a Space Act Agreement with NASA, Bigelow recently assessed and developed options for commercial sector involvement in space exploration beyond low-Earth orbit.

Journalists who want to attend the availability should contact Mike Gold at 202-274-0227 or at

For more information on Bigelow Aerospace, visit:

For more information on NASA's exploration goals, visit:

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Thats exciting, I cant wait to see these things in action. I got really excited about it when they first started releasing info. Its seams so long ago.

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The problem Bigelow has I'd they need a way to get crews and supplies to/from their stations and that means commercial cargo & crew operators.

With Congress slow-walking the funding commercial cargo started late and commercial crew is delayed until 2016/2017. This in spite of SpaceX and others stating they'll he ready before then.

Once commercial crew is ready Bigelow will ramp up (their factory/test facility is built). The habitat tech gets an ISS test soon with the BEAM module getting a ride on a Dragon ISS resupply mission.

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The Bigelow habitats, combined with the alleged MCT and heavier than FH launcher and the soon(?!) to arise asteroid mining business, things could REALLY start picking up speed soon :-)

My fingers are crossed for all these projects.

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The SpaceX super-heavy launcher and MCT spacecraft depend on their new Raptor methane engine family, and its components (preburner, turbopump etc.) start testing at NASA Stennis in early 2014.

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  • 1 month later...

They're hiring participants for crew and life support systems tests, which means they likely have prototype hardware ready fot tests.

Closed Volume Spacecraft Simulation Crew Members (North Las Vegas)

This is a part time position. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Please apply for this position at

Duty Location: North Las Vegas, Nevada

Bigelow Aerospace seeks mature, well adjusted adult individuals with backgrounds in the social, psychological, behavioral, biological, nursing, engineering or crew systems sciences for astronaut-in-space simulation studies.

Qualifications: Demonstrated expertise in detailed report writing with requested education background below.

US Citizens and Permanent Residents Only


The successful candidates will be expected to spend eight, sixteen or twenty four hour periods in a closed volume spacecraft simulation chamber. Candidates will live (eat, sleep and exercise) inside the chamber for defined periods of time and will be monitored continuously.

Successful candidates will be given structured daily tasks and schedules and will be expected to produce detailed daily reports on their activities and on their interactions with other crew members. The candidate will implement Bigelow Aerospace programs for quantifying, evaluating and optimizing crew systems, including process efficiencies, program quality and reporting on psychological, existential, social and environmental factors in spacecraft crews.


BS or MS in Social, Psychological, Behavioral, Biological, Nursing, Engineering, or Human Factors Sciences.


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Sounds like they are progressing well. I cant wait until they start putting these things up.


I do like this bit Bigelow Aerospace seeks mature, well adjusted adult individuals i wish I think im going to put this on all of my job requirements. 

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There are 2 subscale Bigelow testbeds, Genesis 1 & 2, that have been in ~350 mile by ~64? orbits since 2006/2007 respectively, and the materials are holding up fine -


A larger testbed named BEAM flies on the SpaceX Dragon CRS-8 ISS resupply mission in dragpns cargo trunk. After berthing the ISS a will remove BEAM, mount it to a berthing port and then it'll be inflated for extensive on-orbit tests.

If BEAM passes the ISS tests then its ready for further tests & uses. Bigelow has said they want to orbit a full sized (330 cu/m) BA-330 habitat as soon as commercial crew spacecraft are ready to service it. The factory, test facilities and mission control center have already been built outside of Las Vegas.

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  • 4 months later...

Hey Doc,


How will the BA modules boost to stay in orbit? Will they be vertical so the arriving capsules can boost or do they have their own boost system? 

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Bigelow has several different types and sizes of propulsion modules. One is a tug with 2 robotic arms at one end for maneuvering modules & spacrcraft bits. Another has docking nodes for several modules, and another has an airlock for doing EVA's. Still another has landing legs and an airlock for settling modules down on the Moon or minor planets.




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  • 1 month later...

Here we go.....

Bigelow Aerospace Begins Hiring Round by Adding Former Astronauts Ham, Zamka

WASHINGTON ? Bigelow Aerospace has hired former NASA astronauts Kenneth Ham and George Zamka to form the cornerstone of the private astronaut corps the North Las Vegas, Nevada, company will need to maintain and operate the inflatable space habitats it plans to launch some time after 2017.

Zamka comes to Bigelow Aerospace from the Federal Aviation Administration?s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, where he was deputy associate administrator from March 2013, when he left NASA, through June 11. Zamka will remain in Washington to aid the company?s business development efforts with the U.S. and other governments, and serve as a company face for federal policymakers, Robert Bigelow, founder of Bigelow Aerospace, said in a July 9 phone interview.

Ham, currently chairman of the Aerospace Engineering Department at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, is set to join Bigelow at the company?s North Las Vegas headquarters. A Navy captain, Ham will begin developing a training program for the astronauts Bigelow hopes to recruit, and start work on operational protocols for Bigelow Aerospace?s orbital habitats.

Reached via email July 9, Ham confirmed that he will begin working for Bigelow Aerospace in early September.

Bigelow said the smallest space station his company plans to fly will require two BA330 modules, each of which has 330 cubic meters of internal space. The company expects to finish building the first two BA330s by 2017, Bigelow said.

Ham and Zamka are former military aviators who have piloted and commanded space shuttle missions. Their NASA and military credentials are part of the appeal for Bigelow, who plans to put both former space fliers to work as recruiters.

?I would like to see us have half a dozen astronauts onboard by the end of the year,? Bigelow said.

Each Bigelow Aerospace space station would require about a dozen astronauts, including orbital, ground and backup personnel. The 660-cubic-foot stations would host four paying clients, who would be assisted by three company astronauts responsible for day-to-day maintenance, Bigelow said.

Initially, clients and crews would cycle in and out of the stations in 90-day shifts, Bigelow said. Eventually, the company hopes to shorten that cycle to 60 days.

?Our clients don?t need six months on orbit,? Bigelow said, referring to the time astronauts typically remain aboard the international space station. ?It?s an imposition on them. They can get just as much out of three months.?

Zamka and Ham are part of a broader hiring push by Bigelow Aerospace. There are about 135 people in the North Las Vegas factory now, and ?we?re hoping to be by Christmas time somewhere in the vicinity of 175,? Bigelow said. In addition, he said, ?we will expand, substantially, our Washington representation,? which is led by attorney Mike Gold, an export control specialist who helped arrange the launch of Bigelow?s Genesis test habitats aboard Russian Dnepr rockets in 2006 and 2007.

Bigelow Aerospace has yet to book a launch for the BA330 modules it is building. The company?s business case hinges on the availability of domestic, commercially available launch and crew vehicles. Bigelow plans to buy these on margin from the winner of NASA?s commercial crew program, under which the agency is nurturing development of vehicles to ferry crews to and from the space station.

Boeing Space Exploration of Houston, Sierra Nevada Space Systems of Louisville, Colorado, and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. of Hawthorne, California, are developing vehicles under the current round of the program. NASA expects to select two concepts for full-scale development, including an initial paid crew flight, around the end of September.

Bigelow is a junior partner on Boeing?s commercial crew entrant, the CST-100 space capsule.

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A few comments/questions


the 2017 time frame is for launching astronauts not the modules right?

Since they have already booked a flight with SpaceX that is at their launch manifest for 2015


Bigelow Aerospace has yet to book a launch for the BA330 modules it is building.


Does this mean that the flight they have booked is for the hub?

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The 2017 timeframe is for both the modules and possible astronauts to visit them, BA has been holding off on hiring people (and manufacturing the modules) because there was no transportation (from US soil) available for taking astronauts to its modules, in 2017 there will be!


The 'booked flight' with SpaceX is an agreement between BA and NASA, where the latter just put their (BA's) BEAM module on the cargo manifest for a CRS flight  to the ISS by SpaceX in 2015!

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Correct on BEAM going to ISS in Dragon next year on CRS-8's cargo trunk. In its collapsed form BEAM is just 1.737m long by 2.362 meters wide.

The commercial crew spacecraft are what Bigelow has been waiting for, and he has agreements with SpaceX and Boeing for Dragon V2 and CST-100 respectively.

His full size module launches are VERY likely going to be on Falcon Heavy, both for cost and because it can lift their 25+ tonne mass. The only other options would be SLS ($$$$) and Delta IV Heavy ($$).

The other needed piece is a larger cargo fairing for Falcon Heavy. Its standard 5.2x13.1 meter fairing is too short, so a 5.2x19 meter is planned for....2017.

Falcon Heavy #1 is being built right now for a maiden flight in early 2015.

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  • 3 weeks later...

2014 Bigelow Aerospace promotional video, targeting nations who want a space presence but not the expense of a large national program. Also seems to target those who want to be owner-operators of purchased commercial stations.

The largest habitat in their roster is BA-2100, which is >6x the volume of the BA-330 shown.

For the record: NASA has strongly hinted that after ISS they plan to use commercial stations.

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  • 3 months later...

Anyone want a job in Las Vegas?

Bigelow has 100 openings


Bigelow Aerospace


Bigelow Aerospace offers full benefits, 401(k), and vacation as well as opportunities for growth.

If you are an energetic, self-starter interested in joining a growing company please apply.

We are seeking full-time, on-site employment for the following positions:

Facilities & Maintenance Manager

Spacecraft Avionics Systems Engineer

Spacecraft Flight Dynamics Engineer

Spacecraft Electrical Power Engineer

Spacecraft Radiation Engineer/Scientist

Spacecraft Thermal Engineer

Propulsion Systems Engineer

Integration Manager

Test Manager

Assembly & Integration - Technician

Assembly & Integration - Tool & Die Maker

Chemist Test Technician

Crew Systems

Electrical Engineer - Avionics Manager

Life Support Systems

Machine Shop Inspector

Machine Shop CNC Machinist

Mechanical Engineer - Designer

Mechanical Engineer - Structural Analyst

Mechanical Engineer - Thermal System Analyst

Mechanical Engineer - Composites Designer

Mechanical Senior Engineer - Mechanisms Designer

Materials & Processes Engineer

Sr. Mechanical Design (CAD) Technologist/Drawing Checker

Model Shop - Model Maker/Prototype Technician

Production Engineer/Manager

Quality Technician

Softgoods sewing technician

Software Engineer - Avionics Design and Development

Sr. Electrical Engineer - Analog-Power

Sr. Electrical Engineer - Digital

Systems Engineer

I.T. Support Specialist

I.T. Support/Web Developer

3D Artist

Graphic Artist Web Developer

Integration, Composites Technician


Apply for employment using any of the following methods:


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