Skip to comments.Bigelow says inflatable spacecraft beams back images
Posted on 07/13/2006 8:09:00 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
LOS ANGELES An unmanned, inflatable spacecraft launched by a Las Vegas real estate mogul on Thursday beamed back the first images since it slipped into orbit and expanded itself. Genesis I sent back several photos taken by its dozen cameras showing sections of the craft, according to its builder Bigelow Aerospace. The company declined to publicly release the images.
The experimental spacecraft rocketed into space Wednesday from Russia on a mission to test technology that could be used to build an inflatable commercial space station. Genesis I was healthy with functional onboard computers, solar panels, battery power and pressure systems, said company founder Robert Bigelow.
All systems are operating, Bigelow said in a brief statement posted on his Web site.
Bigelow, owner of the Budget Suites of America hotel chain, has lofty dreams of building an expandable orbital outpost by 2015 to be made up of several Genesis-like satellites tied together.
He has promised to invest $500 million to build a space habitat that could be used as a space hotel, science lab or sports arena.
But first, engineers must test the inflatable technology. Over the next five years, they will study how well Genesis I can withstand space radiation and micrometeoroids. Future missions will focus on docking between spacecraft another key component to having a flexible commercial space station.
Genesis I marked the first launch for Bigelow Aerospace. Because the flight was experimental, Bigelow had said he expected problems to arise. But the mission appeared to exceed expectations.
Seven hours after entering orbit, mission controllers confirmed the watermelon-shaped craft, which measured 14 feet long and 4 feet wide at launch, successfully inflated to twice that width.
The company plans a second launch this fall that will further test the technology.
On the Net: Bigelow Aerospace: www.bigelowaerospace.com
In this artist rendering released by Bigelow Aerospace, a model of the Genesis I spacecraft is shown. Hotel tycoon Robert Bigelow's dream of building an inflatable commercial space station takes a step toward reality with the launch the experimental spacecraft in Russia in July 2006. (AP Photo/Bigelow Aerospace)
Former NASA engineer William Schneider (above) designed the modules that Las Vegas mogul Robert Bigelow hopes will constitute the worlds first orbital hotel.
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I particularly liked the following:
Bigelow is a self-made man, and therein lies a key difference. Beginning with his first apartment house, Bigelow has developed a clear-headed and methodical approach to all his projects: Hire the best engineers and tradespeople, source the best materials, and stay on time and on budget.I assume he didn't go out looking for illegal labor.
I read the full article too. Very interesting. Over the years I had heard occasional mention of the inflatable space module concept, and here is where it ended up. As visionaries go, "Mr. Bigelow" sounds refreshingly hard-headed. Here's hoping his Genesis I test module holds up. It certainly sounds versatile. The really crucial question is: can private industry design a personnel shuttle that can make it ALL the way into orbit and back?
Does anybody know anything about current heat shield concepts? The old ablative heat shields are impractical on larger vehicles and I think we've had enough of those dainty ceramic shuttle tiles...
I like it! When can we move in?
A space blimp, cool.
Hope it doesn't get popped by a meteorite or chunk of space junk.
If the concept works, perhaps the inflatable concept could be used to bring the ship to orbital height as well (using helium or some other lighter than air gas). Look ma, no rockets.
Like the loose NASA spatula . . .
The passengers are cockroaches and Mexican jumping bean moths. (Really! http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/5173388.stm)
Sounds like some motels I've been in here on Earth.
Might anyone here remember when Newt Gingrich proposed a few years ago in a USA Today OpEd:
that NASA offer competitive prizes (not winner-picking contracts) for space station accomplishments? Mr. Bigelow is now making that idea seem far less laughable, especially to those with a vested interest in maintaining NASA's current monopoly on space stations...
Might you remember how NASA has gone out of its way to subvert competitors for its own space station in the past? Here's a pathetic space station example:
Can you believe that the main capitalist behind that private space station venture (Walt Anderson) has since been in prison for the past year and a half for alleged tax evasion? Is it a mere coincidence? They wouldn't even grant his bail request.
NASA's still unfinished station has a shady history where taxpayers are concerned:
If Mr. Bigelow's lucky, the NASA clique will decide it would rather waste our tax dollars not on its space station but on the Shuttle replacement, and other missions that will similarly fail (while central planners and their contractor clique continue laughing all the way to the bank).
Shouldn't we continue asking our elected officials why NASA doesn't simply fortify its still grotesquely underfunded competitive prizes program?
For their contact data:
If it's not through space commercialization, how ELSE is the USA supposed to become able to wrestle its record high $8 trillion dollar national debt into submission?
Las Vegas has spent $75 million of the $500 million he wanted to blow on this hobby. It's his money, he can spend it any way he wants. He would need to bulk up the bank account by 40X if he were serious.
Hello from Genesis I
We have extracted from early quick look data a low resolution thumbnail image of the Genesis I vehicle which verifies the success of vehicle inflation and solar array deployment. At this point in time, the vehicle is happy and healthy.