|Monday / 17 July 2006|
Bigelow 'Baby' Successful, Space Habitat Could House Tourists By 2015. The Bigelow Aerospace (BA) Genesis-1 inflatable module, launched into a 550-km Earth orbit via a Russia Dnepr rocket last Wednesday, is operating all systems "within expected parameters" and "temperature, avionics, solar arrays and battery power all remain positive," according to the 13 July Genesis-1 Mission Update on BA's website. The company's Mission Control center in North Las Vegas NV has had multiple contacts with Genesis-1, which Founder Robert Bigelow refers to as "our baby," and has received several data streams from the orbiting module, including small images from the onboard camera. Genesis-1 is a one-third-scale prototype of the full-scale 330-cubic-meter Nautilus spacecraft, expected to fly by 2012. Bigelow currently envisions 2015 as the target for "an honest-to-goodness space station capable of hosting tourists or researchers," according to MSNBC. Genesis-2 is expected to launch in the November-December 2006 timeframe, and a one-half-scale version dubbed Galaxy will also be tested sometime between Genesis and Nautilus. While Genesis-1 is designed to test key elements of durability and orbital life support, it also has a third application -- financial experiments. Beginning with the 'Fly Your Stuff' campaign, which sends promotional items into space aboard the modules, the company is trying "to create various business cases, revenue streams that have to deal with the general public and these robotic spacecraft, and involve each other through the internet. Ways of creating entertainment, or games. Advertising," says Bigelow.