Space entrepreneur Robert Bigelow visited the United Launch Alliance assembly plant in Decatur, Ala., where he promoted the use of the Atlas V rocket for human missions and decried the $56 million per seat that NASA is paying to Russia to fly American astronauts aboard Soyuz spacecraft. WAFF-48 News quotes the founder of Bigelow Aerospace as saying:
“We’ve already spent about 800-million dollars giving that money to the Russians, and I understand there is about 900-million more that is marked to go to the Russians. So America desperately needs a good transportation system that is economical and efficient.”
Bigelow is teaming up with Boeing to produce a 7-person CST-100 spacecraft designed to launch aboard Atlas V and other expendable rockets. The vehicle would service Bigelow’s inflatable space stations, which the Las Vegas company plans to begin launching in 2014. The plan is dependent upon NASA funding to build the crew transport.