Bigelow: Private Space Station Launch Set for 2014

Exterior view of Bigelow Aerospace's Genesis II
Exterior view of Bigelow Aerospace's Genesis II

Space News has a Q&A interview with Bigelow Aerospace founder Robert Bigelow, who is planning to launch a private space station into orbit later in this decade. Much seems to depend upon the success of SpaceX.

An excerpt:

2014 is the year in which all the spacecraft components would be deployed and assembled. We need seven rocket flights to succeed. 2015 is designated as when the first station operations would actually begin. But that’s predicated on what is going to happen in 2010, with the Crew Transport Vehicle, the CTV. We are hoping SpaceX will have a successful lifter in Falcon 9 and is going to continue to work on getting its Dragon CTV operational.

So we’re hopeful that SpaceX is going to be there supplying boosters and also hopeful that the Atlas 5 is in there. We are anticipating United Launch Alliance is going to be a major supplier of our needs.

I also have a design for a “Big Bertha” spacecraft for NASA’s Ares 5. We can create a module that has twice the volume of the entire international space station. One module alone could have 2,100 cubic meters of volume. We’re volume productive, not mass concentrated. We produce many times the volume comparable to another volume that’s a metal structure.

Bigelow, who has spent $180 million so far, revealed that NASA is exploring whether to use the company’s inflatable modules to expand the International Space Station. He also believes his company can provide affordable access to space for some 50-60 countries.

If so, this would open up space quite a lot. Establishing a national space agency would be relatively easy. You would have access to space without having to run an expensive infrastructure as NASA does now.

Bigelow is also hiring and is looking to bring a couple of former astronauts on board.

Read the full interview.