Is Bigelow Today Where SpaceX Was in 2009?

Image Credit : Bigelow Aerospace

In many ways, the promise being offered by SpaceX in lowering the cost of access to orbital space is only one part of a much larger image,  one which we are still waiting to see come in to focus.  Standing every bit as critical to remaining in space, as the Falcon 9 and Dragon system are to getting there, is Bigelow Aerospace.

To some extent,  Bigelow today is in the same position that SpaceX was in 2009.  Like SpaceX at that point with the Falcon 1, Bigelow already has demonstrated hardware in the form of two unmanned Genesis stations I and II launched in 2006 and 2007 respectively.  But everybody was waiting on the main event, and the answer to the question of whether a new company could enter the big leagues with an EELV class launch vehicle. We all know the answer now.

In much the same way, many in the space community are waiting on Bigelow and the promise offered by the BA-330 inflatable space station, hardware which could change our perception of what is possible, and equally as important, what is affordable, as the Falcon family is doing for launch vehicles, and the Dragon spacecraft is crew transfer.  (While Boeing is in the mix as well, and is an important component of Bigelow’s strategy, unless CST-100 ends up on top of an F-9R , there is no path forward in terms of an economically competitive launch solution.) And for the moment, everyone is waiting on NASA and a momentous decision which affect the timing of Bigelow’s plans nearly as much as its own.

If Bigelow can deliver on its potential, and start signing customers in earnest after NASA’s selection of a Commercial Crew provider provides the certainty it needs, then there is every chance that the future is going to get here a lot sooner than many could imagine. Bigelow’s updated promotional video is below. Note the docking sequence using a Bigelow designed, modular space tug.


Posted in: Space Stations

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