Tag Archives: space stations

China announces international experiments to fly on its space station

The new colonial movement: China and the UN today jointly announced the nine international experiments that China will fly on its own space station, set to be completed by 2022.

The nine projects involve 23 entities from 17 countries in the fields of aerospace medicine, space life sciences and biotechnology, microgravity physics and combustion science, astronomy and other emerging technologies.

It seems to me that the competition in space is definitely heating up. Both China and Indian now plan their own space stations. And the Trump administration’s announcement that it will allow private commercial and competitive operations on ISS, is certainly going to lead eventually to more than one private station in orbit, plus ISS.

The result is going to be many different stations, all offering different capabilities and all in competition to lower the cost to get there and to do research or to sightsee. All are also going to be contributing aggressively in learning how to build vessels that humans can live on for long periods, which in turn will teach us how to build interplanetary spaceships. In fact, every one of these stations will be prototypes for those interplanetary spaceships.

Isn’t competition wonderful? After almost thirty years of boring international cooperation on ISS, with little new achievement or innovation, the space station competition coming in the next decade will revitalize space exploration in ways we as yet cannot imagine.

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Bigelow establishes company to market its private space stations

Capitalism in space: Bigelow Aerospace yesterday established a marketing company to research and find potential customers for its private space stations.

“You’ll need deep pockets if you’re interested in staying aboard a Bigelow station; prices will likely run in the ‘low seven figures,'” Bigelow said today. He doesn’t expect tourist jaunts to make up the bulk of his business, however. “What we’ve always anticipated and expected is that we would be very involved in helping foreign countries to establish their human space programs, and be able to facilitate whatever their needs were in whatever context that they wanted to pursue,” he said. “The corporate world, obviously, is huge, and [leveraging] that is also our intent.”

Bigelow already says it will launch to of its large B330 modules in 2021, with another aimed for lunar orbit in 2022. I must note that the 2021 launch date appears to be year later then earlier announcements.

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ULA to launch two Bigelow space station modules

The competition heats up: ULA and Bigelow Aerospace have announced a partnership to launch two of Bigelow’s largest space station modules, each with about as much interior space as both Skylab and Mir.

Both will be ready for launch by 2020. Neither company has made clear if they have any outside investment, though they left open the option of working with NASA and having the modules attached to ISS.

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Bigelow announces prices for visiting or renting their space station modules.

The competition heats up: Bigelow Aerospace announces prices for visiting or renting their space station modules.

For countries, companies, or even visiting individuals that wish to utilize SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule, Bigelow Aerospace will be able to transport an astronaut to the Alpha Station for only $26.25 million. Using Boeing’s CST-100 capsule and the Atlas V rocket, astronauts can be launched to the Alpha Station for $36.75 million per seat. 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. 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. [emphasis in original]

The release also describes price plans whereby the customer can rent part of a module for a period of time, as well as the prices for the naming rights to a module.

I hadn’t heard about it elsewhere and do not remember if this is old news or not. The announcement on the website is undated. Nonetheless, as the release notes, these prices undercut the fees charged by the Russians and provide far more opportunities for the customer.

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Bigelow Aerospace has expanded its workforce as well doubled its factory space in response to the commercial contracts NASA recently awarded.

The competition heats up: Bigelow Aerospace has expanded its workforce as well doubled its factory space in response to the commercial contracts NASA recently awarded.

The company just opened a 185,000-square-foot addition, bringing its North Las Vegas plant up to about 350,000 square feet. It slashed its work force from 150 before the recession to 50 during the downturn; now, it’s looking to jump back up to 90 workers by Christmas. It’s hiring structural, mechanical and electrical engineers, as well as chemists, molecular biologists and workers who craft composite spacecraft parts.

Hat tip to Clark Lindsey at NewSpace Watch.

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