Bigelow lays off everyone


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Bigelow Aerospace, builder of commercial space stations, has laid off its entire workforce, stating this was due to the lockdown by Nevada’s state government due to the Wuhan flu.

According to sources familiar with the company’s activities, Bigelow Aerospace’s 68 employees were informed that they were being laid off, effective immediately. An additional 20 employees were laid off the previous week.

Those sources said that the company, based in North Las Vegas, Nevada, was halting operations because of what one person described as a “perfect storm of problems” that included the coronavirus pandemic. On March 20, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak signed an emergency directive ordering all “nonessential” businesses to close.

A company spokesperson confirmed March 23 that the company laid off all its employees because of the governor’s order, and that it faced “fines, penalties and threats of having our business license revoked” if it remained open. The spokesperson added that the company planned to hire workers back once the emergency directive was lifted, although other sources interpreted the layoffs as a permanent measure.

Considering how Bigelow has allowed other commercial space station companies, such as Axiom, to move ahead of it, this decision is not surprising. The panic over COVID-19 only pushed it along.

Whether Bigelow as a company returns once the coronavirus panic subsides however remains an open question.

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5 comments

  • wodun

    I wonder if Bigelow rated higher on the Tweed Corruption Index, they would have got that contract from NASA.

  • David Birchler

    Bigelow did not compete for the ISS commercialization contract. Probably a mistake, they instead said they wanted to focus on the Gateway US Hab.

    The article did not mention the other layoffs in January, about 24 people if I remember correctly, separate from the ~20 people last week.

    Right before this latest layoff, they told everyone the work week was being limited to 3 days, effectively making everyone part time, then, instead, the final layoff happened on the following Monday.

    Though the issue was left open, there was no timetable for a resumption of operations. It’s safe to assume it will not be back without a complete reboot.

  • David Birchler: Bingo! I had forgotten that Bigelow had thrown his eggs into the Gateway basket. With Gateway essentially dumped, he has nothing, unless he can get his own independent space station built.

  • Sorry I forgot

    Will Bezos or Musk buy them?

  • David Birchler

    Robert: Yep, and even before the Gateway was removed from the critical path, I think it was understood that the US Hab may not be funded, since the Minihab would be much faster and would perform most of what was desired from Gateway.

    It may seem strange to require the US Hab contract to keep BA going, but as I understood it, he was tired of paying for it all, and the commercialization contract(s) weren’t enough.

    That layoff in Jan was most of the softgoods group, the core competency of the company. They were not significantly involved in the NextSTEPS Phase 3 contract (a short term thing) prep work.

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