Bigelow Offering Private Space Station at a Fraction of ISS Cost

10 Comments

Bigelow_Alpha_ Station

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

Hailing what it calls a “sea change” in space costs, Bigelow Aerospace has unveiled pricing information for governments, companies and individuals interested in using its planned private Alpha Space Station.

Transportation costs to the station begin at $26.25 million per seat for a 60-day visit. Leases for exclusive use and control over part of the space station begin at $25 million. Naming rights for the entire station will cost an additional $25 million per year.

Astronaut Flight Costs Lease Block Cost Naming Rights
Clients can select a live and work visit to the Bigelow Alpha station that can last as long as 60 days or as few as 10 days for a single, per seat rate. This per seat rate will be either $26.25 or $36.75 million depending on the transportation provider selected by the client. $25 million for exclusive use and control over 110 cubic meters of volume for a two month period Full Alpha Station yearly for $25 million; Half of the Alpha Station yearly for $12.5 million

Bigelow has selected SpaceX and Boeing as its transportation providers. SpaceX is selling seats on its seven-seat Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket for $26.25 million, or $183.75 million per vehicle. A seat on Boeing’s CST-100 spacecraft, launched by the Atlas V, will cost $36.75 million, or $257.25 million for all seven places.

“In stark contrast to the short stays of a week or so aboard the ISS that we have seen wealthy individuals pay as much as $40 million for, astronauts visiting the Bigelow station will enjoy 10 – 60 days in orbit,” the company says on its website.

“During this time, visiting astronauts will be granted access to the Alpha Station’s shared research facilities. Examples of available equipment include a centrifuge, glove-box, microscope, furnace, and freezer. Also, potential clients should note that as opposed to the ISS, where astronauts dedicate the lion’s share of  their time to supporting station operations and maintenance, astronauts aboard the Alpha Station will be able to focus exclusively on their own experiments and activities, ensuring that both nations and companies can gain full value from their investment in a human spaceflight program.”

Bigelow is also offering clients the opportunity to lease 110 cubic meter blocks of the space station for 60 days at a cost of $25 million. The blocks will be roughly the same volume as a module on the International Space Station.

“This unprecedented amount of volume will allow clients to utilize a significant portion of a space station for their own uninterrupted work and use to fly experiments or other payloads,” the company says. “For example, if a client chose to fill a single lease block with 50 or more experiments, the flight cost of sending an individual experiment to the Alpha Station would only be $500,000 or less for two months.

“Per the information above, utilizing a Falcon 9 and Dragon, for only $51.25 million, a client can travel to the Alpha Station for two months and enjoy dominion over 110 cubic meters of volume for 60 days,” according to the company. “Additionally, Alpha Station clientele will be allowed to sublease their on-orbit volume or resell purchased astronaut seats. This flexibility will provide clients with the opportunity to reduce their own costs or even make a profit.”

Bigelow is also offering naming rights for the station at $12.5 million for 6 months and $25 million for the year. Clients also can name an entire BA 330 module for a year at a cost of $12.5 million.

The company is targeting both sovereign nations as well as commercial companies around the world.

“Nations such as Japan, Canada, Brazil, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Sweden could secure the future of their human spaceflight programs and dramatically increase the size of their astronaut corps,” the company’s website states. “Smaller countries with no human spaceflight experience such as Singapore or the United Arab Emirates could take their first bold steps into space in a rapid and affordable fashion….

“These commercial stations will also present unique opportunities for corporations to gain significant advantages over their competition,” the company says. “The microgravity environment represents a completely new arena for commercial R&D. Already, work aboard the ISS is leading to the development of innovative vaccines for diseases such as Salmonella, and we’re only beginning to scratch the surface relative to what regular, robust, and affordable access to the microgravity environment will mean to the biotech and pharmaceutical industries.”

10 Responses to “Bigelow Offering Private Space Station at a Fraction of ISS Cost”


  1. 1 Nickolai

    Wow this is awesome! It’s so rare to hear from Bigelow I began to wonder if they were going to make it. They still have a long way to go of course, but if they fail, commercial space starts to look very government dominated.

  2. 2 usko

    anything solid-ish yet about when they plan to launch?

  3. 3 delphinus100

    Clearly not before CST-100 and/or a manned Dragon are ready…

  4. 4 Terry Rawnsley

    This proposal sounds really great but the article left several important questions unanswered. If the paying customers are not responsible for routine space station operations, how many paid caretakers would have to live on site and who would employ them? How would they be provisioned and what happens if one of the “guests” has to return home unexpectedly? Do the others have to follow or just wait for SpaceX or Boeing to fetch them?

  5. 5 Terry Rawnsley

    This proposal sounds really great but the article left several important questions unanswered. If the paying customers are not responsible for routine space station operations, how many paid caretakers would have to live on site and who would employ them? How would they be provisioned and what happens if one of the “guests” has to return home unexpectedly? Do the others have to follow or just wait for SpaceX or Boeing to fetch them?

  6. 6 Terry Rawnsley

    This proposal sounds really great but the article left several important questions unanswered. If the paying customers are not responsible for routine space station operations, how many paid caretakers would have to live on site and who would employ them? How would they be provisioned and what happens if one of the “guests” has to return home unexpectedly? Do the others have to follow or just wait for SpaceX or Boeing to fetch them?

  7. 7 Terry Rawnsley

    This proposal sounds really great but the article left several important questions unanswered. If the paying customers are not responsible for routine space station operations, how many paid caretakers would have to live on site and who would employ them? How would they be provisioned and what happens if one of the “guests” has to return home unexpectedly? Do the others have to follow or just wait for SpaceX or Boeing to fetch them?

  8. 8 mattmcc80

    I think Bigelow was doing the only responsible thing back when they downsized by 70% to run lean for awhile. They were in the unenviable position of being able to get to market years ahead of the crew vehicles that are required to bring them customers, so there was no point in keeping a manufacturing floor staffed all that time. Announcing price plans now is still a gamble though, since none of these crew vehicles have flown yet. But if SpaceX and Boeing’s estimates of 2016ish pan out, three years is a pretty reasonable time period for Bigelow to start bringing in contracts and scheduling station launches.

    And assuming they go with the standard NDS mechanism for docking, I don’t see why Dream Chaser wouldn’t become an option. Sierra Nevada would have to use NDS anyway to get to ISS.

  9. 9 Nickolai

    That’s probably true that they really had little option than to run lean for a while, but you also have to remember that’s a risky proposition – firing your manufacturing people? They’re the ones who know how to make your product, it’s important to be very careful in that kind of situation to preserve knowledge so you can scale up again later. Good points all around though.

  10. 10 ken anthony

    If Bigelow is right, this could fully fund a mission to put 48 colonist on mars.

Leave a Reply