Bigelow Hires 2 Former NASA Astronauts

Bigelow_Alpha_ Station
Space News
reports that Bigelow Aerospace has hired former NASA astronauts Kenneth Ham and George Zamka as the Nevada company ramps up hiring:

Zamka comes to Bigelow Aerospace from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, where he was deputy associate administrator from March 2013, when he left NASA, through June 11. Zamka will remain in Washington to aid the company’s business development efforts with the U.S. and other governments, and serve as a company face for federal policymakers, Robert Bigelow, founder of Bigelow Aerospace, said in a July 9 phone interview.

Ham, currently chairman of the Aerospace Engineering Department at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, is set to join Bigelow at the company’s North Las Vegas headquarters. A Navy captain, Ham will begin developing a training program for the astronauts Bigelow hopes to recruit, and start work on operational protocols for Bigelow Aerospace’s orbital habitats.

Bigelow said the smallest space station his company plans to fly will require two BA330 modules, each of which has 330 cubic meters of internal space. The company expects to finish building the first two BA330s by 2017, Bigelow said….

Zamka and Ham are part of a broader hiring push by Bigelow Aerospace. There are about 135 people in the North Las Vegas factory now, and “we’re hoping to be by Christmas time somewhere in the vicinity of 175,” Bigelow said.

Read the full story.

  • windbourne

    Sounds like some lobbying.
    BUT, it is needed.
    NASA needs BA, and BA needs NASA.

    Now, just to get the house GOP to quit trying to destroy private space.

  • BeanCounterFromDownUnder

    Ha, 2017. Just when CC is scheduled to fly.

  • Dennis

    Well, that’s no coincidence you know 😉

  • BeanCounterFromDownUnder

    Yes I’m aware of that but it is making some assumptions around CC.
    I mean BA has mentioned on more than one occasion that they ‘want’ more than one CC flying in order to provide redundancy for CC to their stations. It’s pretty certain IMO that BA will be providing NASA with their next station. Trying to build another ISS with SLS will simply be cost-prohibitive and they won’t be able to get any international partners on board. Nope, it NASA want another ISS then they’re going to have to lease from BA just like any other lessee.
    Edit: sorry wrong spot. Replying to Dennis. 🙂

  • Dennis

    Imho that should be the way to go for any government! Just lease space on some station where you can do your science and experimentations, while a party like BA handle’s the traffic and maintenance.

  • windbourne

    Seems to me that as soon as SpaceX is flying Dragon Rider, that they should start their space station. Get it up there ASAP even if it is only SpaceX. The reason is that they need to test out systems.
    As to building another ISS, I doubt that NASA wants that. They would very much like to lease from somebody else. It would allow them the ability to test things without being tied down.
    More importantly, once private space is going for launch and stations, then CONgress really can not dictate much about NASA other than missions. It should be easy for NASA to put these parts together, or simply build the extra parts needed.

  • windbourne

    I think that is exactly what NASA wants.

  • duheagle

    No, it isn’t. Bob Bigelow was present at the Dragon V2 unveiling extravaganza back at the end of May. After Elon got done with the post-dog-and-pony show round of question answering and glad-handing, I suspect he and Bob went off by themselves for a little private conversation.

    Bigelow made his criterion for having two extant commercial crew launch service providers before starting station ops known several years ago. He tied up with Boeing early on. Hey, why not? At the time, they looked to be the older and wiser heads who could certainly be relied upon if those other comparative newcomers – SpaceX and SNC – flaked out, right?

    I’m guessing a combination of the sudden blind-siding of the Atlas V by the now problematical future RD-180 engine availability question and Boeing’s desultory approach to the CST-100 have taken a lot of that firm’s former bloom off the rose. SpaceX, on the other hand, has moved along with reasonable dispatch, has put no feet wrong in any major way and look to be the guys to beat.

    I think Elon made a pitch on May 29 that Bob should accept that SpaceX represents relatively little forward risk even as a sole supplier – at least intially – of crew-to-LEO launch services and that he should, therefore, come out of hibernation, stick a pin in the calendar and get on with putting up his first crew-capable station. I’m guessing there was some come-to-Jesus talk anent the Falcon Heavy’s development and testing schedule too, plus maybe a handshake agreement to start work on the larger payload fairing Bigelow is going to need to put its station modules – and maybe whole stations – up.

    Bob then went back to Vegas, got the preliminaries done, including hiring himself the nucleus of a company astronaut corps, then called in the media and made his announcement.

    I suspect the final convincer in the whole discussion was probably Elon asking Bob if he really wanted to wait for two commercial crew operators to be fully in business or if that wouldn’t stretch out his initial operations date far enough that he would come to be seen as Richard Branson now is – the man who never quite seems able to deliver.