Bigelow Aerospace Building Revolutionary Space Stations
Founded in 1999 by visionary entrepreneur Robert Bigelow, the goal of Bigelow Aerospace is to create a new paradigm in space commerce and exploration via the development and use of revolutionary expandable habitat technology. Expandable habitats offer dramatically larger volumes than rigid, metallic structures as well as enhanced protection against both radiation and physical debris. Additionally, expandable habitats are lighter than traditional systems, take up less rocket fairing space, and most important of all in today’s fiscally constrained environment, Bigelow habitats are extremely affordable.
Bigelow Aerospace has already fabricated and deployed two subscale pathfinder spacecraft, Genesis I and Genesis II, which were launched in 2006 and 2007, respectively. A third prototype spacecraft, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (“BEAM”) is scheduled to be launched to the International Space Station (“ISS”) by NASA in 2015. When the BEAM is attached to the ISS it will demonstrate the value of expandable habitats as part of a crewed system.
In addition to the BEAM, Bigelow Aerospace is aggressively pursuing the development of its full-scale system, the BA 330. As the name indicates, the BA 330 will provide approximately 330 cubic meters of internal volume and will support a crew of up to six. BA 330s will be used to support a variety of public and private activities in and beyond Low Earth Orbit (“LEO”). Bigelow Aerospace is also working on even larger spacecraft, such as its ‘Olympus’ module, which will provide a massive 2,250 cubic meters of internal volume.
Regardless of the destination, LEO, the Moon, or Mars, Bigelow Aerospace’s expandable habitats will enable a new era in space commerce and exploration.